Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Muhlesteins and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Two weeks ago, our car started acting up. The engine would rev every time we attempted to accelerate. We aren't car people, but we diagnosed the problem as a worn out clutch and we had resigned ourselves to forking over the money to get it replaced. We were telling our woes to a mechanic in our ward on Sunday, and he started telling us that it was probably not only our clutch but also our transmission. He said if we had to replace the transmission, it would probably cost $3,000 to repair. I was heartbroken at this news. We were not going to invest $3,000 into our 1998 Ford Escort and we probably wouldn't be able to buy a new car before Christmas. This meant we were stuck in Irving for Christmas.

In addition to a sick car, I was also worried about the house. On Friday, we got a huge water bill. Our last water bill had been high. We had discussed it and thought it was due to the extra laundry we have done since we got Nicholas. In addition, my mom had visited so there was a week where there had been three people using water. This most recent water bill was outrageous and there was no way to justify the extreme jump in water usage. Luckily, Joseph is familiar with water meters since he has spent two summers working for the water department. We turned off everything in the house that uses water. He went out and based on the water meter we had a leak somewhere and we were losing approximately a gallon every 2 minutes. He dug up a section of the yard to see if he could find the valve to shut off the water to our house. He found the valve, but it was rusted shut. We didn't know if the leak was in the house or in the yard. We called our insurance Saturday and a plumber showed up on Monday. He informed us that the leak had to be in our house and that we had to cut a hole in our floor so they could access our pipes. Then came the great news that we would probably find a swimming pool worth of water beneath our floor boards and that pumping that water out would not be covered by our insurance and cost approximately $1,200.

After the plumber came, I checked my email to find the first official hospital bill from having Nicholas had been processed. At that moment, I was seriously discouraged. It has taken me a week to look past this series of unfortunate events and see all the blessings associated with these occurrences. First, it turned out that our car only needed the clutch replaced. It only took a whole day of Nicholas and I camped out at the mechanics and $500. We can now make it back to Utah for Christmas as long as the weather is good. Second, after emptying out our major storage closet, we found an access hole already made and we discovered that the water from the leak had amazingly been able to drain so we didn't have a swimming pool. We were without water from Monday to Thursday, but we were able to get the leak repaired for $60. We also got the water back on before we had to throw a party for 14 people on Friday and 8 people on Sunday. Third, Nicholas had his two month appointment on Tuesday. He weighs 12 lbs and is healthy. He is such a blessing and the hospital bills seem a small price to pay to have him be part of our family. While I am not necessarily grateful for the trials that we experienced this week, I do know that things could have been a lot worse and that our Heavenly Father is watching out for us. After having Tithing settlement on Sunday, I can't help but feel that we cashed in all our blessings for being full tithe payers this week.

I also learned an important lesson this week from my wonderful husband. Because of this series of unfortunate events, I switched into miser mode. I kept on focusing on just how expensive life is and how precarious a financial position we are in with no current income. In contrast, at church when the Bishop asked for donations for the less fortunate people in the ward, Joseph donated everything he had in his wallet. As always, he is such a great example of generosity and love.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nicholas's First December

This week was pretty slow because Joseph had to study. Joseph had his Anatomy Lab final this Friday and his Anatomy Lecture final is tomorrow. I mainly did chores around the house while he studied. I finally painted our nightstands and put new handles on them.

My life is improving because Nicholas is only waking up once during the night. He is also interacting more and will smile back at you.

It is starting to feel like Christmas and it even snowed a little on Wednesday. I learned how to make tamales from one of the sisters in the ward at this weeks Relief Society activity. Tamales are a Texas Christmas tradition. We also had a Ward Christmas party on Saturday. Tonight we are going to sleep under the Christmas tree. We already had the air mattress blown up because we had a potential med student staying with us the past three days.

I also had a failed attempt at making a sugar cookie Christmas tree. The tips of my stars kept breaking off and then my tree fell over.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

This Week's Highlights

Nicholas had his first trip to the zoo and his first ride on the TRE/DART. Dallas Zoo had their dollar day this Tuesday, so Joseph skipped out of Anatomy lab and we hopped on the train. The zoo was larger than the Hogle Zoo with comparable displays. The zoo has the world's experts at raising Saddle-billed storks and they were the first to have a Saddle-billed stork born in captivity. We also loved the Ghost of Bayou exhibit in the reptile house that had some large albino alligators.

We celebrated our three year anniversary this week!! Officially our anniversary was on Sunday, but we decided to celebrate it every year on the day before Thanksgiving because we got married the day before Thanksgiving. Joseph took me out to Bucca de Bepo and then we toured around the North Park mall. This was probably the first mall Joseph actually enjoyed visiting because a large part of the Nasher collection of sculptures is housed throughout the mall. As an anniversary gift, Joseph gave me a movie and he carved our initials and a heart in a stump located in our backyard. (Isn't he sweet and romantic. I'm so lucky!)

On Thursday, we cooked our first turkey and had our first family Thanksgiving. We bought a roasting oven, which made cooking the turkey surprisingly easy. I never knew that they included the neck in the turkey cavity and I had to call my mom in order to find out where the giblet packet was hidden.

On Friday, I convinced Joseph to get up at 4 in the morning. My family loves Black Friday and I have been trying to educate Joseph in the virtues of this day. We hit Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Babies 'R Us. Joseph got an external CD/DVD reader and a banana chair. I bought a Christmas tree, an electric blanket, and Pyrex bowls. We also picked up a couple of movies.

Other highlights included watching the new Star Trek movie on Monday, teaching gratitude to a class of six 5 year old kids, cutting down another tree in our backyard, finding a great mechanic who replaced our serpentine belt, watching an edited version of Last of the Mohicans at the Grange's house, making Joseph visit three Targets in one day to find a bedspread that was on sale, and watching the Cougars beat the Utes in overtime while enjoying Kathleen's chili.

A Boone Thanksgiving

On Saturday the 21st, we had Thanksgiving with the Texas Boone cousins. We went up to Denison and ate at MaryRuth's house. On our way to Denison, we stopped at the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. We saw great blue herons, hawks, snow geese, and Canada geese.

Denison's claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Eisenhower. We like Ike so we went and took our picture in front of what we thought was the house only to find out later from MaryRuth that this was the gift shop.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. In addition to fabulous food, we played Rock Band on the Wii and I discovered MaryRuth is a professional scrapbooker.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nicholas's Namesake

Nicholas Muhlestein was the first Muhlestein to join the LDS church and is our Nicholas's fourth great-grandpa. Joseph's Grandmother Muhlestein sent this history, which was dictated by Nicholas Muhlestein in1914.

In the year 1862 in Switzerland a Mormon elder came to my house. He talked about this awful Mormonism, so I began to study after the things he told me, but I came to think what all my folks would say if I should change my faith, but I could not help myself. I had heard the truth and I went to my bedroom ans knelt on my knees and asked my Heavenly Father to tell me if this was true and I heard a still voice whisper to me, “Everything this elder said was true.” I began to go to their meetings. I would walk 7 miles to the meeting and fast besides. My dear wife did not like it very well, but she could not change my course, so she began to investigate, but it came hard for her to make up her mind to change her faith. At last she went into the waters for baptism, and that in December when the ice was 2 to 4 inches thick. We had to go in the night down a steep bank, through brush and thorns and break the ice. She was in very delicate health. When she came home she said all her pains and ailings had left her. In three weeks a nice baby girl was born. Then their troubles began with their relatives. They all thought they had lost their senses to join such a church. The minister of that city spoke about it in the pulpit. He warned the people against these elders that had already led a nice young family astray. When the time came for the child to be christened, Brother Muhlestein went to the minister to ask if it was alright if they did not fetch the baby to have it christened, He said, “Mr. Muhlestein, I will write to the higher authorities, if they will allow it, it is alright with me.” So he got the answer that every man was free to do according to his Faith. So he had the baby blessed and named by the Mormon elders. But his wife’s mother had been a faithful midwife for 30 years and had carried many children to the church to be christened as that was their custom. When she heard about it, it pretty near broke her heart. It was not long after that she received a letter from her folks that if she wanted to see her mother alive, she would have to come very quick. So she had somebody come and tend the two children and the father, and she got ready for the journey. While she was on the train she kept praying to her Father in Heaven to strengthen her testimoney that she might be able to stand firm before so many of her folks. She felt very weak yet in the faith, but the Lord heard her prayers and helped her stand firm when they all bounced on her, she bore her testimony to them. When she got off the train she had to walk about a mile. When she came near where her mother lived, she wanted to go up the long stairs, there was an old man approached her and said, “There is nobody up there but a dead woman.” That was a blow like a thunderbolt for her, she knew it was her dear mother, but she was prepared for everything. The Lord had given her sufficient strength to stand all these trials, so she came out victoriously. And then she bore her testimony to all that would ask her about the Mormons.

They began to prepare to emigrate to Zion, but where to get enough money, for they had not enough. So I went to my father to see what he could do for me. My dear old father was not a Mormon, but I tell you what he did do about it, He went to work and had the whole estate valued and had my portion turned over to me. There were 4 boys and 1 girl, so I had plenty of money to emigrate and some left to help others. So we got everything ready to start in the Spring of 1863, me and my wife with two little children, one four years old and the other 10 months old. Everything went pretty well till we got on the ship to cross the waters. We couldn’t get any fresh milk for the children and they took sick and died, and we had to sink them down in the deep, that tested our faith pretty hard. But the Lord helped us to bear it, so we traveled on, till we got to where there were no more railroad, and there we waited till some more of the Saints arrived, then we started on our new journey across the plains. Well, we was beginning to see that we could not have saved our darlings through these hardships, for such poor food and no way to make our babies comfortable, we began to be reconciled to our lot. So we moved along as fast as our poor oxen could take us, but my wife and me had to walk all the long way for the team we had had too heavy a load. Sometimes I had to pack her on my back across the rivers. We made us a little tent out of some linen sheets. We was getting quite used to this camping and cooking over the fires on the ground. After many weeks we arrived in Salt Lake City. We pitched our little tent on the public square and waited. What should we do. We could not understand one word of English, so somebody came and told us that in Provo there was no watchmaker, I might get some work there, so we found our way to Provo and pitched our little tent again on the west public square till we could find some room. I run across some men that could talk French for I could speak French pretty good, and that was James Bonnet and he helped me get a room down on West Main Street. I tell you we felt like thanking the Lord to get under a roof once more. I unpacked my tools and the good people began to fetch me some work, but money was hard to get in them times, but we were glad to take whatever the people had, some potatoes, and flour, and so on. I soon bought me a home of my own and planted fruit trees on my two lots. And next year in 1864 my first son was born to me, for which I felt very thankful. I began to be a worker in the First Ward as Deacon and as I learned the language I was made a teacher and so on till I have been a High Priest for many years. Now my family numbers 14 children are living and 5 gone to the other side, and grandchildren I have 34. Thank the Lord they are all in this church.

Our little Nicholas has a lot to live up to. We also discovered that Nicholas Muhlestein was born on October 7, 1831 and ours was born October 8, 2009.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Announcing Nicholas!

After many photo shoots in search of a good smile, these represent our efforts to capture young Nicholas in an announcement type format. Please let us know what you think of them and which is your favorite!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

First Halloween Party

We went to the Garza's house for a Halloween party. Most of the medical students from BYU came to the party with their wives. Costumes were mandatory. Nicholas went as St. Nicholas. I went as Amelia Earhart. Joseph went as an aorta. The stuffed plastic sacks he is holding are kidneys. (Nicholas just woke up. I'll post more pictures later.)

First Halloween

Halloween is a big deal on our street. The picture directly below shows a small fraction of our next-door neighbor's decorations. There are two other houses on the street that rival this house. It takes our neighbors about a week to set everything up. It was these same neighbors who gave Nicholas the cute Halloween hat and socks.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

20 pictures of some things we've been up to

This represents a summary of the last few months since school started and the baby came. Pictures are in reverse chronological order.

This is Nicholas. We've spent lots of time with him lately.

This is Stripes. He is our pet gecko (at least until he decides to leave.)

Here we are at my "white coat ceremony". I thought it was way overkill for presenting an article of clothing, but it was very nicely put together. Nicholas is sporting his tie too!

The moment I put on my first white coat. Very touching.

A 3 generation picture! Maren's mom was an invaluable help to us in the week after Nicholas arrived and we were happy to play host.

A fortunate meeting for my dad in Dallas led to another 3 generation picture! My mom also got to see Nicholas during a layover but it was a very abbreviated visit that had no picture taking involved.

We start 'em young here.

More fun with Nicholas and dress up.

More Nicholas.

More Grandma Wells and grandson Nicholas

Papa and son playing on the floor during Nicholas' tummy time.

More Nicholas. This time looking very contemplative.

Sleeping. (We really do spend lots of time with this kid.

Papa and son caught napping.

At the hospital.


Nicholas' first picture ever.

He wasn't always on the outside.

It's hard to see from the picture, but this guy really did get huge!

Pulling out our old living room carpet in preparation for our new wonderfully soft and clean carpet.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nicholas James Wells Muhlestein

Nicholas was born at 5:00 pm on Oct. 8, 2009. For those who are interested, here are some more details of his birth. (We'll let the pictures speak for his cuteness!)
Weight: 7 lb. 4 oz.
Length: 20.75"
Name origin:
Nicholas - We like the name and it was also Joseph's great-great..grandfather. (First Muhlestein to join the church!)
James - We like the name and it is prevalent on three of the four parental lines (not very common on the Wells line).
Wells - Continuing the tradition of using the mother's maiden name for the sons.
Muhlestein - It seemed appropriate. We sure want him to be identified with our family!!

Everything went well with both mother and child and the father was okay too. All are home again now and we are adjusting to this new adventure in our lives. Thanks to all who offered their support and prayers and we would be happy to show off the new arrival if you want to come visit us.