Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fun at Milbourn Orchard

Groovin' in Maryland

I feel like I'm getting a bit more adapted to my new environment here in Maryland. I think I actually feel more normal! Which feels kind of weird because I've been living in the crazy world for about 8 months. I'm starting to establish a routine. The church community here is amazing and very welcoming here. I'm making some great friends too.
I've started this cool quilting project with the ladies in the Relief Society, which has allowed me some fun social relaxation time I haven't had in a really long time. There are some pretty fun characters in the group. (To illustrate a little better for my friend Renee, I'm not the exotic one anymore! That's okay cuz I'll always be exotic to you, right?) I have been impressed with how so many women from extremely different walks of life and age groups can meld so well like real sisters do. I feel very much at home and very blessed to be a part of it.
I went to the Ward Food storage trip to the cannery yesterday and had a blast. I've never done that before. When I went to BYU, my mom sent me away with some boxes of food storage from the cannery, so I knew what to look for. But I've never had the opportunity to go and do it myself. I'm excited to get more serious about food storage and emergency preparedness. I think I might start making bread again. I've always enjoyed doing that but it does take a little bit of effort.
I also got a job as a barter mom at a gym working in the childcare room. I only work two days a week from 9-11:30 and I get to work out for a whole hour of that period. So basically, I work for three hours a week and I get a full membership to the gym with all the perks! Maybe I'll be able to get this tired body healthy again. What a concept! I'm not sure I remember what that feels like but I'm anxious to find out! This also gets the boys out of the house with some fun play time with other kids their age. All in all, a win-win situation!
I'm getting more serious about starting my voice studio again. There seems to be an excellent market for that here. I've already got three potential students! This will keep me singing which will be good therapy I think. Maybe I should knit some cute house slippers like my old piano teacher had when she taught in her home. Then it would be official!
It's nice to be in a groove again vs. survival-life-plummeting-out of control mode. That's the rhythm of life right? Ebb and flow. You've got to have the storm to appreciate the calm and vice versa.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Promise Kept

When we first knew that we would be moving to Delaware, we promised Adam that we would take him to one of the Atlantic Ocean beaches. This "sort of" softened the blow that he would be leaving all of his friends. However, it has taken us several weeks to fulfill that promise so I think he was beginning to wonder if it would actually happen. Being the "greenies" in the area we chose the most touristy beach around, Rahobeth Beach. If it hadn't been for all the hoards of people trying to get their last beach kick in for the year, it would have been a little less crazy. But, I think the boys were happy and they could have cared less if there were people there. For weeks we had been researching how to make the best sand castles, so you'll see that our research paid off with a well packed "mound". We spent most of our time preparing the sand that when we got around to carving the castle Adam had lost interest. Oh well. It's okay because Lincoln used it for body surfing then the tide came in and washed it away anyway. That's when Adam remembered that he had started a castle and wanted to finish it! Go figure!

The weather was perfect where it was warm enough to play in the water, but it was cloudy so the sun wasn't blaring either. Adam had fun body surfing the waves. As you will see, after he was surprised a few times by the incoming tide, he was very daring in the deep waters.

As for Lincoln, well after he got plowed over a few times by the waves he enjoyed body surfing on the sand much better.

We had a blast playing in the waves, digging in the sand, sun bathing, and making sand Angels. We would have spent some time touring the boardwalk and visiting the Salt Water Taffy factory. But, we got caught in a huge downpour as we were packing up our things. We were drenched in seconds. As we're running to the car, Adam is screaming, "I really don't like the rain! I really don't like the rain!". And Lincoln is just looking around as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Probably because he was too groggy to do otherwise as this next picture will show what he did within a minute of being in the car. So we rode an hour and 40 min. home sopping wet! We had a blast! We'll have to explore some of the other beaches in Maryland and Delaware.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What makes a kindred spirit?

If you've ever seen Anne of Green Gables you'll know what I'm talking about when I refer to "Kindred spirits". Kindred spirits are people that you connect with on a deeper level than just basic intellectual and emotional interaction. They are one who you have a unique spiritual connection with. That feeling that somehow you must have known them in a previous life and you've finally reunited. There have always been those kindred spirits I have found throughout my life that have had a unique affect on me and my development as a person. People that I will never forget even though the ability to communicate becomes difficult as we go our separate ways through life. Some of these people that I speak of, to remain nameless, I did not seek after their friendship. It was almost as God placed them there on purpose because he knew I needed them. I've always wondered why we don't connect with everyone like that. What is it that makes the "kindred spirit" connection happen? Could it really be that we knew in the pre-existence that somehow our paths would cross in this earthly life? Or, is that special connection a way that God let's us know he's gifted us to each other for a specific reason. This is getting a little deeper than I intended. But it's a little glimpse into my mind as I've "scanned" the crowd at church and playgroup for the past couple of weeks in our new home wondering who that special person may be that was meant for me, or I for them. And I can't help but mourn the loss of those "Kindred Spirits" that I left most recently in Indiana. So, here's to you all! All you wonderful people that have made a difference in my life! I'll never forget what you have done for me.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A few things for your veiwing pleasure

Since our camera is broken, I've made a video of our new home in Maryland. Please disregard the ugly blue sheet in the window. The Landlord has yet to put the blinds in.

Here's a look into one possible scenerio for Adam's future, as a Maestro. Special thanks to Little Einstein's and Adam's dad who frequently is seen by Adam around the house conducting to an imaginary orchestra, or music he's listing to on his Ipod.

Could we have some professional golfers in our future? The first part of this clip is Adam at the driving range in Colorado with his Dad and Grandma Brandt this summer. The rest was today in our backyard.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hmm... I love Autumn!

Don't you just love the smell of Autumn in the air? I can't really describe the feeling I get when I take it all in. It's a feeling of peace and comfort that just makes me happy! I got to thinking about the seasons that the world experiences and how they relate to our lives in an eternal perspective. In some ways Autumn represents life closing to an end before the death or sleep of winter. Spring represents new life and renewal. I love spring. It's exciting to see all thenewness "springing" up everywhere. And there is a special smell to that air too. But, for me, the Autumn air has an extra special sweetness to it. I found that interesting because I would have thought that brand new life, not impending death would bring me that unique sense of peace and comfort. Someone once quizzed me on the life cycle of a leaf. I assumed that the time when the leaf was fully matured was when it was it's greenest in hue. But I learned that the leaf doesn't actually full mature until it is ready to fall off the tree. That the beautiful hues of reds, oranges, and yellows were a sign of it's "prime" or full "adulthood". And as it reaches it's prime, it gently falls to the earth preparing for it's next purpose, to nourish the earth in preparation for new life. The circle of life is eternal. As we are born, live, grow old, and die, we have a divine purpose beyond this life. As our "colors" turn and mature, we are only preparing for our ultimate destination and realizing our divine purpose for coming to this earth. In order for our "colors" to change and mature, we must endure hardship, the difficult battle between good and evil. It is through these defining moments/experiences that we grow and mature. How sweet it must be to be approaching death with the knowledge that it is only another beginning to the eternal circle of life. That experiences beyond our wildest dreams are to be had in the next life if we "earn our stripes" in this one. So, as I think of the Autumn leaves falling to the ground, I don't think of impending death. I think of the joy, peace,and comfort that comes from a job well done, a fight well fought. The glorious feeling of becoming better, being more, and realizing our God-given potential. Hmmm... I Love Autumn!
(The leaves are not this yellow in Maryland! These are pictures I took of Brown County Indiana when I was pregnant with Lincoln)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Part III of the Soon to End Saga

So we were back to square one with finding a place to live. I was borderline panicked because our cash flow was extremely limited and we could not afford a hotel for more than two more nights. I spent the next day combing through the newspaper(keep in mind that I had spent at least 3 weeks looking for a place prior to our move). I was on a first name basis with several real estate company's secretaries in the area, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was out there. Many places I was interested in were rented by the time I made the call. And I had to be picky since we moved to a damper area and I have a baby with severe asthma who needed a healthy environment in which to live. We found a cute townhome that was almost a 30 minute drive to campus that we almost settled for because it was increasingly apparant that homes were filling up fast. At least the ones remotely in our price range. We decided against the long commute because we only have one car.Price range, now that's an interesting topic all on it's own. I had spent hours devising an imaginary budget in our preparations for the move. I researched cost of living on line and in my house search was disappointed to learn that it is much more expensive out east than in little old Bloomington. The amount I had budgeted for housing was quickly starting to seem unrealistically low. Most homes that were the same as we came from were at least 1,100-1300 per month w/o utilities! After a long day of calling and searching, I went back to the paper to see if I had overlooked any ads. I felt impressed to call the number for an ad that was only two sentences long and I obviously had missed before. When I called she met me 10 minutes later only to take me to another home like the first one. Well, at least it was clean, but it was in a horrible neighborhood and I could still smell the odor of mold and mildew. I was disheartened as I explained my situation with my son's allergies in reference to the mold. She said that she may have something that would suit his health needs but thought it was much smaller than we were looking for. At this point my priority list had gotten pretty small. Just get me into a healthy clean home for my kids! When we pulled up to the house I fell in love immediately! It was a tiny little white ranch home with a red door and red shutters and a large fenced in front and back yard. The Backyard had a brandnew storage shed, a large porch/deck and a huge maple tree that completely shades the back yard and has the perfect branch for a tire swing. Yes, the house is very small. Probably too small if we intend on making our family any bigger soon. But it will do. And guess what! It's $50 cheaper than the amount I had budgeted. I really felt the Lord's hand that day and was so grateful. The only glitch was that the house wasn't really ready to even be shown yet. It had been completely renovated that week and did not have the carpet or central air installed yet. She promised us it would be in when we moved in so we figured as long as we had carpet we could sweat for a couple of days. I was just thrilled to get in! When we arrived to sign the lease and move in our things that had made a nice home for themselves in the Penske, she let us know that the carpet guy had let her down. The carpet was not in yet so she had marched to his house and waken him to inform him of the urgency of the situation. We had arranged help from the ward to help us unload and we had a truck to return so we didn't have to pay an extra $100. So we went ahead and literally unloaded the truck into the shed, the backyard, and onto the back porch. The carpet was in by the afternoon so we were able to get some things inside the house. It's taken us over two weeks to make sense of where everything is. It also took over a week to get the central air in. So we were dripping sweat everyday and finding things to do at the hottest part of the day so we could get out of the house. A lovely man from the ward brought some fans over to help relieve us from the heat. Oh, I forgot to mention that while we were unloading, I foolishly let my boys run amuck in the backyard for hours not realizing the consequences. We have speculated that Lincoln might also be allergic to certain bug bites. Well we absolutely confirmed that he is definitely allergic to mosquitos and gnats. His body was completely covered in bug bites. After a day or so, they kept getting bigger and then started blistering. So basically, his whole body was covered in itchy blistering sores. So we drugged him with Benadryl to ease some of his discomfort. I felt like a terrible mother that day! In all the craziness, I felt so blessed to have my Mother-in-law there to help out. I'm pretty sure I would have had a nervous breakdown if she hadn't have been there helping out. I love you mom and appreciate you so much!
So, we got moved in, the carpet was laid, and the central air was installed. Except for a few holes in the walls that the Central air guys left and some shifting around to do, I think we feel pretty settled. And now I have my internet and so I'm a happy camper!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Adventures in Moving Part II

....So, they hired him on the spot with no moving or housing allowance, and he was expected to move in two weeks. Right....Well, the lord does work in mysterious ways and came through with many little miracles throughout those two weeks. Thanks to all of you (you know who you are) that were God's angels. As Rob got busy taking care of loose ends at the university, I got busy packing and getting really creative raising the money for the move. I'm a little embarrassed of some of the things I was willing to do to make it happen. Don't worry, nothing illegal, immoral, or otherwise. No need to bore you with all the details of that. So, in a huge whirlwind, we (the Lord), were able to get on the road and out of our apartment. We were driving to Delaware with the understanding that we had a great 3 bedroom Townhome that was move-in ready. When we arrived, we went to do a walk through and were completely mortified with what we saw. I'm pretty sure that the pictures they "recently" took were either 15 years ago or a different property. On the outside, this place looked like the Adam's family mansion. Okay, not really, but it was scary. I'm pretty sure that the building was leaning to the left slightly....or, was it to the right...hmm. But I thought, "give it a chance Kara! It's probably beautiful and shiny inside"! Not so shiny....The smell of mold and mildew hit like a wall of bricks when we walked in. The walls literally had dirt and mold on them in places. The window shades were black they were so dirty. The pantry cupboards were literally covered in mold and mildew. My mother-in-law's eye's caught my gaze and displayed a look of horror to bring my attention to the pantry. In the nicest voice I could possibly muster, I told the leasing agent that this simple wouldn't work because of my Baby's severe allergy to mold and mildew. I was saying that I didn't think it was ready to move in at all and I could smell the mold and mildew. She looked at me wide-eyed and said, "Oh really?" as if she couldn't see what I was seeing at all. She must have lefter her seeing eye dog at home. Okay, that wasn't very nice. I honestly could not understand how this house was even ready to be on the market at all! So, back to the drawing board and a couple more nights in a hotel paying way too much so that our son wouldn't have an asthma attack in the hotel as a reaction to the mold and dust mites....To be continued...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Adventures in Moving/Life

So, I've decided to give myself a therapy session and recount a portion of the details of our recent move back east as my father has reminded me that it would be good for my posterity if I wrote it down. I'm not really sure what it will be good for but a bit of entertainment for you readers out there.
Shall I begin with the phone call that started this whole thing. Do understand that this phone call was an answer to prayer before I begin, lest you think I'm complaining. I've just learned a valuable lesson that answers to prayers do not mean that things just magically fall into place and are all better like a mother's kiss on a wounded knee. We had sent probably 15-18 job applications throughout the school year hoping that someone might hire Rob even though he's not quite done with his degree. You see, his Assistantship had run out and, despite many pleas from his voice teacher and himself to the powers that be, there was no chance of renewal. So, we were faced with a whole year of no financial aid, and Rob trying to finish his degree and possibly searching for a job at McDonalds. Well, I'm not sure it would have ever resorted to that. But it probably meant that I was going to really have to commit myself to my Mary Kay business to completely carry the financial load of this family. That would have been fine if I hadn't just completely burned myself out with a massive Mary Kay tour out west to get us through the summer. I had made myself physically ill over the summer (there were other things that transpired that added tremendous stress that I cannot divulge) and did not feel equipped to be the breadwinner until I could recover somewhat.
You can imagine my shout for joy when we received the call from the University of Delaware requesting him to fly out and interview. So it all sounded great until they informed him that they didn't even have the funding to fly him out for an interview. Not such a good sign... Now, a business major would have run the other way or tried to "negotiate" other alternatives. Unfortunately, in the world of music such things are not always negotiable if the school just simply does not have the funding. You must sometimes just take what opportunities come your way. So, since we were not expecting to hear from anyone this late in the game, we did not have the funds to just whip out and buy a plane ticket. Some family members heard of his opportunity, and graciously bought the plane ticket. For which we will be forever grateful! At this time in the summer, I was really struggling with my health which affected our pocket book in a bad way. I don't remember another time in our marriage when things have been so tight. It's amazing what you can live without when you are forced to! We were certainly trained to understand what "needs" and "wants" really mean for our family!
So, his audition went well. He says he really felt the Lord's hand in his performance especially when he taught the voice masterclass. Those of you who know Rob, will understand how talking for large groups of people can be terrifying for him. They were so impressed with his interviews and teaching abilities that they hired him on the spot. He was the last of 5 people they had out to interview. So, although the offer was less than appealing to all those MBA majors out there with a whopping $()*&)#(#*& for 10 months (Rob didn't want me to post the actual amount :)), we knew that the Lord wanted us in Delaware(well, at least in the vicinity). We figured that we had managed to live on half the salary offered so we could make it work. We also knew that this was only an interim position. So anyway, just as we thought our troubles were all over, they had only begun. And, since this is getting really long, that's where I'll leave you hanging until next time...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Quick update

The Brandt family has moved to Elkton, Maryland. I apologize to any of you who had no idea this happened yet. It was a last minute move and very stressful at that. There really wasn't alot of time to inform everyone until the deed was done. So, here's the official update.

Rob got a call at the end of July from the University of Delaware inviting him out to audition for a voice faculty position. We were surprised to get this call after a long spring and summer of sending numerous applications only to find out that he was not considered for each one. He flew out for an audition in August and they hired him on the spot. We had a really good feeling about Delaware all along. We know that this was meant to be. Rob is very excited about this opportunity because he has come in at a time when they are starting fresh rebuilding the voice program. The other faculty members are extremely pleased with what he has to offer and have been dropping hints left and right that they would love to keep him long term once the University officially makes his position eligible for tenure track. So, we found this cute little 2 bedroom ranch home with a large fenced-in yard for the boys across the border in Elkton, MD.
Moving here was, for lack of a better expression, a complete nightmare. But we're here and getting more settled every day. I'm excited about my performance and teaching opportunities in the area. I didn't get many of those in Indiana. For those of you who would like to update your address book, send me an email with your request and I'll get that to you. I'll be posting details of our moving adventure later, so stay tuned....

Little Wiseman

Discussion with my 4 year old as follows:

After listening to a Brite tape about making good choices....

A: "Mom, do you get mad at yourself sometimes when you make a bad choice?"

M: "Yeah, I get mad alot. I would love to make right choices all the time, but I just can't seem to do it."

A: "Well (speaking with this hands up), you can't make right choices all the time because that would be perfect. And we can't be perfect!"

M: Silence....


So, it's been like six months since I've made an entry into my blog. And I'm sure that everyone who ever checked it has completely given up and won't even read this entry. But, for my own benefit, I feel a need to point out my hypocracy. Since we have moved recently (updates and all of that forthcoming), I've decided to read my profile and update anything that may need it. As I was reading about myself, I was just shaking my head in disgust. I realized that I haven't written a darn thing that "warrants" being written down for six months! My life is full of unforgettable moments. But I'm too busy living my life to stop and write them down! As I was visiting with my Dad about some recent events, he being an excessively diligent journal keeper, reminded me that my posterity might enjoy reading about these events. I've always neglected journal keeping. I'm not sure why because I had excellent examples all around growing up. I'm not kidding! My dad literally has written volumes and volumes of his every day life, spiritual impressions, ect... I find that when I start writing, I realize how out of touch I am with myself and it's a little scary. I enjoy helping others and being aware of my external environment. But when it comes to looking inward, I'm afraid that I don't do it often. I also think I'm somewhat lazy and impatient. I get antsy sitting and writing. Especially in a blog situation when I know others, who happen to be amazing writers, are reading this! I sometimes feel pressure to write things with proper grammar that has content of interest. I'd really like to make more of an effort. So, for any of you that still love me and haven't given up on my slacker blog, you will get first dibs on my renewed efforts to improve.