Sunday, May 19, 2013

Why We Aren't Moving (Yet)

I feel like a need to preface this post with a whole bunch of background history, but first of all, let me explain the motivation behind it. We live in a mildly run-down, older part of Tempe, nearby ASU. Our house is perfectly fine, it was build in 1960 and we've had our share of problems with it, but with the exception of the kitchen, we are getting it near the way we want it to look. Our front yard is landscaped nicely now, the outside has been recently painted and I love it. One bathroom was over-hauled, the other one was improved. We've re-done most of the flooring. We're down to the kitchen, basically... And I have the money to do it, I just gotta get it done.

Size-wise (my wife won't agree with this), it is perfectly adequate, at least for now. It's 1500 square feet. We have four children, but they are mostly small and in my opinion its perfectly sized for our family. As they age, things will start to squish. And we home school, so my wife would prefer more space for all of our home schooling stuff and a better dedicated space for school. But honestly this is a first world complaint (please don't tell her I said this) and we are getting by just fine with what we have.

And despite all of this, the location has a lot of benefits. We're right in the middle of a sprawling valley. Nearly anything we want to get to is within a 30 minute drive. Right now, my wife is driving all the way out to Queen Creek to take advantage of some seriously kick-butt violin lessons for our oldest daughter and even Queen Creek, situated as it is on the edge of the population, is still a manageable distance away.

When we bought the house, the housing boom was just beginning and we were really hesitant to jump in.  I was seriously handicapped by trying to make this decision by asking the question, what would my older sisters do. Well, I know what they would have done, they would have bought a house in the Coronado District or similar, and that's what we tried to do as well, going as far as making an offer on a house. But we couldn't follow through because, you know, I'm not them, and this area, for all of its charm and historic value, was not for us.

Meanwhile, the people most like me, those my age in the tech industry were making much different house buying decisions than me. Their houses were much larger, brand-new, meant-to-look impressive sort of houses in the suburbs and exurbs, houses with pillars, and granite counter-tops and stainless steel appliances with big windows and vaulted ceilings and lots of space. 

At the time we finally made our house purchase, I was working in South Scottsdale, and my wife was working at ASU, so actually Tempe made a ton more sense than downtown Phoenix and in my opinion it made a ton more sense then far east Mesa, or far south Chandler, or Gilbert and beyond. But the houses in Tempe are either really expensive or kind of lame and often both. We did the best we could and ended up with the house we have (kind of lame, kind of small, kind of run-down).

But it has worked out. We made friends in our church congregation, got to know our neighbors (the ones we are most friendly with are the older, been here almost since when the neighborhood was new. The others are renters, typically ASU students and are harder to pin down). And it has worked out. But we've aged and our kids have aged, and our friends are starting to move, in droves to find bigger nicer homes elsewhere.

Our church congregation tends to have very small number of youth who regularly attend and they are in a rather transitionary demographic, a lot of renters who are passing through typically. Our primary (children under 12) is fairly nice sized, but after 10 or 11, the population drops off a cliff. And this past week, another family is leaving the ward a family whose son is our son's age, a boy our son considers his best friend.

But you know, and I said it in my home schooling post, I like doing what eveyone else is not doing:
Not too many people would agree with me, but I do have a rebellious spirit inside of me. It's wildly constrained by fear, but I do rebel. I like to turn against the status quo at times, to do something unique only to me, swim against the tide, establish my own identity. But I just don't rebel for random reasons, I have to have really, really good reasons. I need to have a great story to explain my rebellion, so that I can justify it to others. Maybe, so that I may even get someone else to join me...
And as people our age leave our church community one by one replaced by young couples half our age, I want to dig in. I want to zig while others zag. I want to recommit myself to the Peterson Park Ward of the Tempe Stake for as long as I can.

And by the way, I think this General Conference talk is particularly relevant to this point:
One thing we have often been taught is to bloom where we are planted. Yet sometimes we are tempted to migrate to some new area, thinking our children will have more friends and therefore better youth programs.
Brothers and sisters, do we really think the critical factor in the salvation of our children is the neighborhood where we live? The apostles and prophets have often taught that what happens inside the home is far more important than what our children encounter outside. How we raise our children is more important than where we raise them.
Certainly there are other factors involved in deciding where to live, and thankfully, the Lord will guide us if we seek His confirmation.
Another question is “Where are we needed?” For 16 years I served in the presidency of the Houston Texas North Stake. Many moved to our area during those years. We would often receive a phone call announcing someone moving in and asking which was the best ward. Only once in 16 years did I receive a call asking, “Which ward needs a good family? Where can we help?”
In the early years of the Church, President Brigham Young and others would call members to go to a certain place to build up the Church there. The irony is that even now we have faithful Church members everywhere who would go anywhere the prophet asked them to go. Do we really expect President Monson to individually tell more than 14 million of us where our family is needed? The Lord’s way is that we hearken to our leaders’ teachings, understand correct principles, and govern ourselves.
Our son just started Cub Scouts. In the past week, three Cub Scout leaders are in process of leaving or have left. I am committed to helping my son suck every last ounce of benefit from the scouting program and am more than willing to help other boys if asked.

And our children are hardly bereft of resources. I mean, we live within biking distance of a major university. Our kids have participated in an amazing Chandler Children's Choir, they sporadically get gymnastic training from a school run by a woman who won a gold medal in the 1996 olympics. And even without those perks, I have an awfully talented wife.

Now, this does not mean we are staying here forever and we could move sooner than this post implies (maybe much sooner). We still would like to live closer to family and we would eventually like to have a nicer, bigger house, especially as our kids get older and our needs change.

But for now at least we're here and enjoying it. Zigging while everyone else seems to be zagging.

My Wife's Master's Recital

Some time back, I tried to get my wife's master's recital stored on the web reference-able.  The links are now dead, so this time I'm going youtube. This is really half of the recital unfortunately. The second half is Schumann's Carnaval. It last almost thirty minutes and is broken up into 19 tiny movements. I'm haven't figured out how to get it up to youtube yet.

Some brief commentary. This is my wife at her absolute musical peak. We weren't married yet, we had started dating seriously that semester before she performed it. It was difficult for me because she was so stressed out about it and was focused so hard on it, I didn't get to see her nearly enough.

I hope that one day, when the children are older and she has more time to focus on it, she can try to get at least some of this back. 

Mozart Sonata in D Major K. 576

Movement 1, Allegro:

Movement 2, Adagio:

Movement 3, Allegretto:

Ravel Sonatine

Movement 1, Modere:

Movement 2: Mouvement de menuet

Movement 3: Anime


Sonata No. 3 in A Minor, Op 28