Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Times They Are A Changin

So let's back up a year or so ago. 

Danae and I had this unspoken tug on our hearts to consider the possibility of making a move. We didn't know how, and we didn't know where. But, we realized that God had placed us in McKinney for a reason. McKinney, TX was Money Magazine's #1 place to live in American in 2014. Huge corporations and industries had set up shop nearby, resulting in homes being placed on the market and sold overnight (no exaggeration there.) They just could not build the houses fast enough.

We bought our first home in October 2010 and decided in October 2015 that we would put our home on the market and see where God would lead us. Our main goal was twofold. First and foremost, we wanted to pay down debt. The vast majority of our debt is my student loans. (Side note: it's a dangerous/expensive slope to enter the college world without any clear direction or final destination in mind.) Secondly, I was hoping to find a closer commute to work. 

Since it was such a seller's market in McKinney, we knew we would not be able to sell our home and find something in the same area while still making any kind of profit. So, goal #2 seemed like it was an attainable goal. We realized living in McKinney was out of the question, so we set our sights on  other areas a bit closer to my work. My normal daily commute was about 40-45 minutes each way depending on traffic. I was blessed to work a 6-3pm shift Monday through Friday, so I was able to miss out on some of that fantastic Texas rush-hour traffic. Ultimately, I was hoping to cut that commute at least in half. 

Some good friends of ours (who just so happened to be realtors) suggested to us that if we were serious about wanting to make a move, we needed to put our house on the market around the same time we were looking to purchase. Since houses were selling so quickly, we needed to be able to make a strong offer on a home that couldn't be contingent on us selling ours. This in itself was a bit daunting. Imagine putting your house on the market before having a place in which to move. Also, Danae was 7 months pregnant at the time (she suggested I include that little bit of info after proofreading this post).

We ended up looking in different area for about three or four weeks before finally putting our house on the market. We had a couple offers and had committed to making a final decision over the weekend. We still had not found a house! Although I was still optimistic in a couple strong contenders, Danae was not feeling the same. We decided to table our search for the moment and pull back a bit until we both agreed it was the right time. 

Isn't that how it works sometimes? You feel drawn towards something, but it's not quiiiiite the best time to pursue it.  

Fast forward to the beginning of this year. 

Danae and I both were still feeling very strongly that we needed to sell our house. And for the sake of not turning this post into a novel, I'll say that we had many things fall into place for us that allowed us to put our house back on the market in March this year. In one weekend we had 23 viewings and about 6 or 7 solid offers on our home before our realtor started screening any offers that weren't above our asking price. 

Our family landed in the Nashville area to start the next chapter of our lives. This area is a great location that puts us closer to our family in both Pennsylvania and Missouri. The cost of living is much cheaper in this state, and it has a solid job market. Since Kevin and Colleen primarily work from home as well as host events for Family Life, they were actually able to move to TN before we did. It was a bit longer of a process for us having two kiddos in the house. 

Kevin and Colleen also extended an amazing opportunity for our family. So that we wouldn't be rushed into buying a home before getting a solid chance to learn our new area, they proposed that we live with them for a while so that we could get settled in. The home they bought has a basement that is currently being transformed into an apartment that they will stay in while Danae, the boys, and I will have the upstairs. Now we are able to continue our journey to become debt free, while getting a good feel for the new area in which we live. 

We are so excited to see what God has in store for us and the boys in the years to come.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Remington Michael

Well hello there again. As I mentioned in my previous snippet from yesterday, our family spawned another tiny human. And once again, the Mears male seed is strong. 

Remington Michael was born on January 19th. (Funny side story)...I had to pick up a prescription for him at the pharmacy a couple days ago, and one of the questions they always ask for the person you're picking up a prescription for, "And what's the date of birth?"


Complete deer in the headlights moment. I couldn't remember! I was so sure they would never believe I was the father. But luckily I had guessed correctly. I'm sure they were one button away from dialing CPS on me.

Anyways, back to this strapping young lad. Would you just look at those eyes?? #fuggehdaboutit

Pretty handsome young man right? Looks NOTHING like me. And to tell the truth, he's completely different from his big brother in most, if not all, physical aspects. 

Emerson has a light complexion with bright blue eyes and quite the baby face (even at 2). Remi on the other hand (yes we call him Remi for short) has a dark complexion, dark brown eyes, and some pretty rugged features including the Green trademarked cleft chin. 

It's amazing to see the differences in their looks alone. I'm anxious to see the differences between them as they grow older. 

Growing up with my two younger brothers, we all shared some similar physical features. We all heard those comments growing up, "You're a Mears boy aren't you?", "Are you one of Steve's boys?", "You look just like your brother". 

Over time, we definitely grew into our own unique identity. Only time will tell how these two will develop and grow. I can only hope that they stay close together throughout the years to come.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A New Season

8 months...

It's been 8 months since my last blog. Sorry about that. Perhaps I've got a lot of things to write about now that I've sat on my hands for so long. Or maybe my hands have just fallen asleep. Most likely the latter. 

Either way, my family has had a TON of things going on since last year and it does offer some great things to talk about. A lot of changes. And oddly enough, most of them large changes. I'm really anxious to write it all down on this wonderful digital paper thing.

But for now I'll just bid you adieu and throw a little teaser for the next post. It will be all about baby # dos. 


That's right, we had another kiddo to add to the ol' homestead. 

Stay frosty out there till we meet again. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

That Magical Place We Knew As A Kid (Part 2)

After passing through the deep valley where we always stopped to look for deer; we would continue on down the bumpy dirt roads towards the cabin. We'd have to take many twists and turns down different roads before reaching our destination. I always tried to remember which road was the correct one for us to turn off at, but I never could quite remember the right direction. Yet, for some reason I never once feared that we'd get lost. I knew that my dad knew exactly where he was going, even if I didn't. There was always that sense of security being in this different world, completely cut off from everyone else. Even though I was fully aware that I'd be completely helpless should I ever be left on my own, I still never had to feel that fear.

After we'd head down the last hill before reaching our cabin, we would first see the cabin that my Uncle Ken built. He had sold it to some friends of the family that we went to school with and were fairly close with in that chapter of our lives. About 200 yards beyond that was our cabin. We would slowly pull onto the needle and fern strewn ground, sprinkled with broken branches and deep roots that twisted in and out of the forest floor. Our car would slowly bob up and down as we passed over those roots, making our way in between two trees off to the left side of the cabin. For the most part, that would be the final resting place for our car while we were at the cabin.

Rear view of the cabin.

Almost like clockwork, mom and dad would start unpacking the car dutifully bringing things into the cabin, while my brothers and I more often than not, would run off to begin playing. One of the first things we often did was start gathering small sticks, twigs, and pine cones together to start the first fire in the fire pit. After all, the fire was one of the best things about camping. Since it was also a fairly long drive for three impatient kids, we often had to relieve ourselves in the outhouse. Since we didn't have any running water, it was either that, or we would have to find a tree. I don't think mom ever really cared for the outhouse.

Although there were many times that it was just our family (and usually our friends up the way) staying at the cabin, there were probably even more times when another family would join us when we went to the cabin. Three different families in particular have blessed me with life long memories at that place. My brothers and I had so much fun, if for no other reason than because we got to share this magical place with other kids around our age. We would run back and forth between the two cabins, pretending we were ninjas. Armed with long sticks stuffed down our pants, or tucked inside our shirts we were always ready for the evil enemy that lurked around every tree. Oh, and in case you didn't know, there are HUNDREDS of sticks that look just like pistols. That's because in our minds...they were pistols.

Front view of the cabin

One of the strangest yet greatest thing about the cabin was the spring. As I previously mentioned, we didn't have any running water (or electricity for that matter) at the cabin. So we'd have to take empty milk jugs and walk what felt like a mile, back up the hill that we came from when we first arrived to the cabin. Near the top of the hill, we'd exit off the road to the left, and walk down another hundred yards or so before reaching the spring. We could always hear the running water, long before we reached that spring. To my knowledge it was a natural spring, the origins from whence it came...I never knew. But long ago someone had put a pipe into the ground, and that's where the water would flow. It was completely covered in moss built up from the constant running water. There was also a metal box a few feet down from the "spout". People would often store their bottles of pop or other items in this box to keep them cool.

How we got all of our water while at the cabin

A couple years ago, Danae and I found ourselves visiting in Pennsylvania. We were able to take her up to the cabin to show her the place that I loved so much. I'm pretty sure she didn't quite feel the same warm and fuzzies that I did. But, I was glad she was able to see it for herself. Almost like a family ritual, my dad, brothers, and myself all went back to the spring, and each one of us in turn straddled the rocks on either side and cupped our hands into the frigid water for a sip. That was another strange thing about the cabin. Water in the area was always FREEZING, and it stayed freezing even after we brought it back to the cabin.

The inside of the cabin was by no means large, nor was it glamorous. But I never once thought that it was anything less than perfection. There was a very small kitchen/dining area upon first entering the cabin. In the back there were two beds on either side of the room, and in the middle was a sleeper sofa. All of us brothers loved sleeping on the fold out couch. I don't know if it was just more comfortable than the single bed, but it was definitely cool as we never slept on a fold out couch any other time than at the cabin. We would rotate who had to sleep on the single bed and the remaining two boys got to share the sleeper sofa.

Looking at the front door from inside the cabin

The kitchen/dining area. To the right is the ladder that led to the loft.
The bed mom and dad shared and the fold out couch

So what does a family do for a long weekend without running water or electricity? Plenty. This time period was well before the recent technological boom of our society, so thankfully we still had our childish imaginations fully intact. We spent hours just running around in the woods, playing whatever game or adventure that we could think up. We played board games, and learned how to play different card games. We would spend time up in the loft and read mystery books with some of our friends. There were actually two mattresses up in the loft, and when we had guests that didn't bring their own camper, they would sleep up there.

The loft. Pay no attention to the falling insulation.
The cabin also had a wood stove that we used to heat the cabin. There was a gas stove in the kitchen that we used to cook from (if we ever made a meal that wasn't utilizing the fire pit outside). That fire pit outside was where we enjoyed all kinds of hobo pies. For those of you who don't know what a hobo pie is, it's a little cast iron square (the size of a sandwich) that you put your ingredients into, and put either over the fire or place into the coals. The possibilities were endless. We made everything from toasted PB&J sandwiches, to pizza, toasted ham & cheese, and even desserts. The dessert was usually two pieces of bread sprinkled with powdered sugar, and some kind of pie filling or marshmallows inside. Of course we had potatoes that we'd wrap in tin foil and toss into the coals, plenty of hotdogs and roasted marshmallows. There was also a grate that we used to stretch out over the fire so that we could grill on top of it as well.

After the daylight was gone, we'd often all be outside by the fire pit. Each person would have their own lawn chair and we'd just sit and bask in the warmth, sharing stories and memories. Sometimes we'd swap riddles or tell jokes. Us kids would always collect a few long sticks to hold into the fire while it slowly ate away at that stick. We'd hold onto it until our hands would start to hurt, then it was time for another stick. Directly above us, the trees overhead opened up to the sky. You could always see thousands of stars.

We had so many great times at the cabin, and I could go on and on about the all the different things we did: hiking, the first day of trout season, pulling bullets out of the bullet stump, Jake's Rocks, Hector's Falls, Crocodile Rock, Kinzua Dam. We had so many great times there and I will always look back on those memories fondly. My hope is that one day, I can share the happiness I felt at the cabin with my own children. I imagine it won't be in the same place, but as long as we're together enjoying each other and making our own unique and lasting memories, it won't matter one bit.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

That Magical Place We Knew As A Kid (Part 1)

Danae's been mentioning to me the past few days, "I haven't seen you write anything for your blog in a while." I know, I know. I can't quite put my finger on it; call it lack of inspiration. More accurately put: lack of motivation. My tendency has always leaned more towards the lazy spectrum of life. I'll go through these highs and lows of drive towards different things. Take for example: the other day, I got it in my head that I needed to start cleaning. The house wasn't very messy by any means, but that's just what I was feeling compelled to do. So that's just what I did. The following day....not so much.

That's how it goes for me. I feel ready to go one minute, and the next I'm just as content to sit on my butt and stare at the ceiling fan. Oh, did I mention that we got a new ceiling fan? This one actually puts off a bit of wind, which is PARAMOUNT during our oh-so-beloved Texas summers.

The past few months, my thoughts have been traveling back to my family's trips to our cabin. My great grandfather Sam Mears, built a cabin in the Allegheny National Forest many years ago. Our family would take multiple trips to the cabin throughout the year, and I LOVED it! As a kid, there were hundreds of amazing things about that place. 

I vividly remember how anxious my brothers and I got as we loaded up the car so much that you couldn't see out of the trunk window. We often would fight who would get to sit in the back seat. That seat was often loaded up with the pillows and sleeping bags, which is a natural pre-built fort ready to accommodate the lucky inhabitant for the duration of the trip. 

It's amazing how in just under a two hour drive, the complete landscape of the world can change before your eyes. I remember it seemed as if we were driving to a different world. The trees became giants, the rocks and stones turned into cliffs, and the air always became more crisp and fresh. It felt as if this different world was very old, yet somehow pure.

Once we got to the entrance of the woods that would lead to our cabin (marked by the crossing over a specific railroad and emerging onto a dirt road) we were allowed to take off our seat belts and roll down the windows. I would get chills as I took that first deep breath, taking in the scent of pine, spruce, and hemlock. My dad always slowed the car down to take in the sights. I would always scan between the trees, hoping for a glimpse of a bear. I'm not sure if I ever came across one. 

At a certain point between entering the forest and arriving to our cabin, we would pass through a deep valley that stretched on either side of the road. The area was completely devoid of trees on both ends as far as you could see. I believe it was a power line trail. But, to our family that was the prime deer spotting location. Every time we went to the cabin and hit that specific spot, dad would stop the car (or at least slow down significantly) and check both sides for deer. It got to the point where we would anticipate reaching that mark of our journey. I'd dare say that now, most of the things I've just mentioned were all little parts of our journey that we anticipated the most. 

Not the actual power line trail, but a field in the area

But there were so many more great things to come...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Teething: Ain't nobody got time for that!

It's hard to get a clear picture from a fast screeming baby

Remember when you were a little one and you were sprouting your first set of chompers? No? Me either. I pray it's the same for our little guy. He's had the same four teeth for months now. He's currently 16 months old and we believe that he's starting to cut a few more these past few days. The poor guy has been miserable and has been making sure we're well aware of that fact. I can't blame him.

I remember what it was like having braces and that sucked most of the time. Each month (or however long it was), you'd go into the orthodontist and they'd tighten those metal contraptions to sloooowly move your teeth into the proper position. I can only imagine this practice evolved from some type of medieval torture device. "We have ways of making you talk Mr. Bond". I'm not sure which was worse, four years of that, or a super condensed week long version that Emerson is experiencing. Either way, I'm ready for it to be over. For both our sake.

The past two days have been much better. He's moved past the, "Get out of my way or I'll run you over with a steamroller" to the "I'm kind of miserable, please just hold me and everything will be fine". We've tried to use popsicles and other chilled teething toys, but he hardly wants to put anything in his mouth. Including food. He's always been a picky eater, but the last couple weeks have definitely been a challenge for Danae. I'm hoping that once his new teeth come through, he'll be so anxious to scarf down his meals that we we can slip in a few green veggies. I can dream right?

I was telling Danae that I remember as a kid, having insanely sharp pains in my legs. My parents told me they were due to me having growth spurts. When I'd go to sleep at night, we'd have to put hot water bottles on my shins because they hurt so bad. I don't remember how old I was, but I do remember how awful that was. Apparently this growing up stuff is hard. Whoda thunk it?

Overall, he really is taking it like a champ. He's at that age where he's very aware of what's going on, and what he'd like us to know, yet can't quite verbalize everything. Imagine how frustrating that would be! I picture being in a foreign country and desperately needing a specific type of medicine. You can't tell someone what you need because they don't understand you. It would be frustrating and scary.

Even though I know what's going on in his mouth, my stamina has been running low. I feel really bad getting frustrated with him, because I understand the root issue. But it's hard. It's hard to keep that game face on in the presence of a red faced toddler. I've been praying to be filled with patience and grace. I guess God's been sending me plenty of opportunities to practice just that.

Luckily, this is just a short season of life. I know it's temporary. I know it's not the most difficult thing for us on the horizon. It's always the most difficult when you're in the middle of it. I'm just anxious for that sweet hindsight. The time when we can look back on it and laugh as we think to ourselves, "Wow...we thought THAT was difficult?"

Keep going strong Emerson, you've just got a little further to go.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Getting Over Self

Growing up, I used to believe that I was a fairly laid back, easy going, and dare I say...outgoing person. I felt confident in who I was, especially when I was in my comfort zone surrounded by familiar people and places. I certainly wouldn't have considered myself to be high-strung.

It's amazing how quickly the door is flung wide open once you get married. All of a sudden, there's another person in your life 100% of the time. When you wake up, she's there. When you come home from work, she's there. When you go to bed, yup...there. The wonderful thing about this new person that soaks up every second of your life, is that she's not you. She has opinions, her own way of doing things, and her own free will. She folds clothes a certain way. She puts only the toilet seat down, while I also close the lid (mama taught me right). She grew up with different life lessons, different priorities, and different habits.

(Enter baby stage right). Now you've got a third person in your life, also there 100% of the time. Guess what? This little person also has his own opinion. And if he's anything like his mommy, that personality is a big one. He also does not have the same desire to do things the way that we do. After having been married for close to a decade, we've gotten into a sort of a rhythm. We're privy to each others ticks and the things that make us go bonkers. We know the buttons. Baby boy however, doesn't care about any of these things. He does like buttons though. Oh boy, does he like BUTTONS.

We come into this world as completely dependent individuals. Our entire being relied on those entrusted to care for us. How can we not grow up with an inclination to believe that our life truly is the center of the world. Because it's the very center of our world. Each and every day, our own thoughts rule and direct our lives. Every outside voice is either in harmony or conflict with the things we want and the direction we believe our life is moving. I think this is a major part of the struggle when new people come into your life.

I've been finding myself getting so frustrated lately because things aren't a certain way. It could be something as small as a dirty diaper sitting on the changing table instead of in the diaper genie. Sometimes it's a kitchen that's been messy for going on a week. Why do all of these things affect my mood? I think it's because they're not the way I would have them. Kind of makes it sound like my problem right? Exactly. 

1. My wants and desires do not dictate the priorities of others. 

2. The people I interact with, are not cognizant of every unspoken expectation.

3. If you want something done right, do it yourself. 

Sometimes I need to keep these things in the front of my mind and remember that my world is not the true center. It's okay sit on a pile of graham cracker crumbs at the end of the day. 

I've basically come to the conclusion that I'm not as laid back as I once believed. The reason I used to be, was because I only ever had to worry about my own needs. Now there's more cards in my deck. I've been given a responsibility, and responsibilities aren't always easy. I look forward to the challenge, and am becoming a slow learner. As long as my family can have patience and grace with my stunted emotional stability, we'll all be heading in a great direction.

I love my wife and son, and I would have my life no other way. Come what may, we're in this together!