Angels in Arkansas

We only spent 15 months there, but our family definitely left Arkansas better people than when we came. You all inspired us to be better, to try harder and to be kinder. Thank you each for your examples. We miss you all so much and we miss the spirit of Arkansas. Scott and I have vowed that instead of dwelling on what we miss so much about each of you, we will instead take the lessons we’ve learned from you and do our best to infuse a little bit of Northwest Arkansas into Southern California. Here we go:

 

P.S. I know I will inevitably neglect to mention some of our amazing friends from Northwest Arkansas. Please forgive me in advance.

Thank you Christie Poyfair, for being the first friendly face to welcome our family to Northwest Arkansas. You are raising six of the best kids we’ve had the honor to meet. Thank you for always smiling. And thank you Dane Poyfair for being one of the most enthusiastic, committed and fun Scout leaders we’ve ever had the privilege of working with our boys. No one rocks the banana cheer like you. Thank you for your compassion with Adam. Whether you know it our not, it was completely evident to us. We miss you guys.

Thank you Aubrey Patterson for being so quick to get our kids over to hang out with yours. That makes a huge difference when you’re new and 1,300 miles away from home. Thank you for sharing your parenting techniques on fb and in church. I’ve stolen some of them and our family is better for it. Thank you for scavenger hunts at the mall. And even though we couldn’t make it thank you for Harry Potter marathons! Thank you for scanning a billion pages for me and thank you for “the book.” I am sad that we will not be neighbors. What timing! And thank you to Aaron Patterson for your dry wit and hilarious sense of humor. We loved getting to know you.  Thank you for your work with our boys in Young Men’s. Thank you also Aaron for helping move us out. We appreciate the man power. We miss you all.

Thank you Aubrey Norby for inviting us to dinner when we were newbies. You made us feel at home. Thank you for setting a poignant example to me in the way that you raise your children. Thank you for the play dates, and rides to and from Scouts. Thank you for checking in when I was so sick. Thank you for Jacob….what an amazing friend he was to Zac during our time in Arkansas and still.  Thank you to Geoff and Derek for helping us move. I know there are more interesting ways to spend a Saturday. We miss you so much.

Angela Folkman. I miss having you down the street. I know we didn’t see you every single day but it was comforting just knowing you were five houses down. Thank you for welcoming our family with the best raspberry jam on Earth. And thank you for the “secret recipe.” It will be a forever tradition in our family now and I will think of you every single time I make it. I loved working with you in Relief Society. You are truly one of the most kind, funny, beautiful and hard-working women I’ve ever associated with. Thank you for helping me wash windows and mini blinds and whatever else you helped with the night before our move. You were so speedy and efficient that I didn’t catch it all!

And thank you to Todd Folkman. Thank you for spending time every single Sunday with Adam. I never doubted that he was in good hands under your care. And thank you for asking so many questions when you first started with him. It was so apparent to me that you wanted your time with Adam to be meaningful, productive and fun for him.  Thank you for helping us load up on moving day. You are both angels to me.

Amy Bench. I felt like we were kindred spirits from the first time you visited me. Immediate comfort, immediate friendship. You are strong and committed and compassionate and selfless. I learned so much about being better from my time spent with you. Thank you for rushing over at midnight when we needed you. You didn’t hesitate. You were there in less than five minutes. Thank you for yummy meals and trusting me to work along side you in Relief Society. Thank you for s’mores and four-wheeler rides at your beautiful ranch. Thank you for bailing me out big time our last night there. For packing my bathroom and helping me clean. I needed you and you were there. Thank you for sweet Bryn. Ellie misses her. And I miss you.

Renee MacCabe. You are so much fun. I know it wasn’t long, but I enjoyed working with you too. You have one of the most intoxicating and contagious smiles and I love your eternal optimism. You are so positive and I’ve learned from that. Oh! And thank you for teaching me about fly strips! They changed the quality of my life in Arkansas! And thank you Mark MacCabe. You are an awesome teacher and we feel so blessed that Zac had the opportunity to learn from you.

Stacey Sears. Thank you for being the most patient, sweet and kind teacher Crew could have ever asked for. He looked forward to class with you so much. Love your family. Miss you all.

Stacie Pabst. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your awesome sense of humor. Thank you for understanding Adam. Thank you for awesome sportsmanship when our kids played one another in sports. Can’t wait to see what Luke does with his basketball career – he’s awesome! I wish we could have worked together longer in R.S. but am so grateful for the time that we did have.

Susan Sakamoto. Thank you to the entire family for taking care of Spice while we were gone. We knew we didn’t have to worry a bit. You are such an example to me! Super mom, raising five children, completing a nursing degree and working part time. I think I could take a lesson or two from you in time management. How did you do it? You are an inspiration to me. Thank you to Corey for helping us move. We miss having you three doors down.

Jennifer Massey. I really miss you. I miss our regular chats. I miss having you around the corner. I miss Payne. Thank you for always being honest and real. I learned a lot from you about how important that is. Thank you for introducing us to the world of soda cracker pie….oh my heaven! Thank you to you and to Ashley Kate for spending hours with me on our last night there helping to clean. My garden tub in California doesn’t have jets, but I will never forget how to clean one thanks to you! (Or, I may actually forget and have to e-mail you) but it worked great! I must admit that I am bummed that we will not be able to be a part of the gardening group this summer and fall. Please be sure to take lots of pictures and let me know how it all turns out. Thank you for continuing to help us even after we were gone and picking up and mailing packages for me. You have seven kids – it’s not like you needed another errand, but you were so willing. I love you Jen. I miss you. You were a true friend to me from the beginning.

Alisha Lindsey. I miss your family. You were all so kind to us. I admire you all so much and the sacrifices you all made to help anyone who needed it. I wish you happiness and peace in Colorado. If you are anything like me, you will miss Arkansas tremendously.

Thank you Nicole Bingham and family. What a way to fellowship! Thank you for having us over on several occasions and for inviting us to dessert and kick ball. You are an amazing woman with an amazing family. Thank you for play dates and phone calls and compassion and kindness. Thank you to Scott and Trevor for all of the help with our move. We really miss you guys. Oh, and thank you for spearheading the most spectacular Christmas party I’ve ever attended. Amazing.

Ashley Bingham. You are a beautiful young woman. Thank you for the way you live your life. You are such an example of integrity, purity and honesty for little girls like my Ellie. Whether you realized it or not she was watching (and admiring) you. I’ll be watching your life through facebook and can’t wait to see how it unfolds!

Andrea Vannoy. Thank you for taking the most beautiful pictures. What a talent you have. I enjoyed our friendship so much. Thank you for your compassion and interest in Adam. You are so talented. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you and your awesome family. Miss you, dear friend.

Chelsie Moline. Thank you for having us over for Thanksgiving and for teaching me that Thanksgiving turkeys do NOT have to be dry! I’ve never tasted anything so delicious in my life and you are a saint for hosting such a spectacular evening. I loved our chats. Thank you for being kind and for bringing amazing cupcakes. Scott and I had so much fun with you and Chuck at Petite Bistro. What a pleasure to dine with someone who enjoys food as much as me! And with someone who has a husband who enjoys college sports as much as mine! Miss you guys.

Sara Solis. I’m sorry that we didn’t have the chance to get to know one another better, but I feel I had a kindred spirit in you. You know what it’s like to take on the system on behalf of your kids. You know how it is to feel like the special needs in your life will break you. You know what it is to have to just let the house go, because you’re engaged in a work so much more important. You know what it is to have next to no time to yourself because you are sacrificing it all to make sure your children have the best education possible. I admire you and respect you. I miss having you in the neighborhood. Keep it up. You are an amazing mother.

Brian Cutting. Best Young Men’s President ever. How blessed we feel that Adam and Zac spent over a year under your supervision. Thank you for Saturday morning breakfasts for the all boys at your place. What a fun tradition! I love your bow ties, and your kindness and compassion and sense of humor. Thank you for being empathetic with Adam and our family and doing your best to make sure he was comfortable and included and understood. We will NEVER forget that. Thank you for your faith. And Kim Cutting. You’re such an example to me. You were so welcoming from day one and I just may take harp lessons because of you.

LeTara Davis. Thank you for judging no one, even though some may have judged you. Thank you for giving your love unconditionally. Thank you for sacrificing your time with absolutely zero expectations in return. Thank you for teaching me how to heal myself from something that 98 percent of all doctors said could not be healed. Thank you for being a most excellent movie buddy. You’d better be here by November so we can go see Hunger Games together. Thank you for cooking for me and keeping me out of the hospital for all of those many months. Thank you for teaching me the virtues of juicing! I thought I was pretty knowledgeable regarding special diets, but because of you, my mom has lost 25 pounds, is off her Nexium, off of her blood pressure medication, has severe arthritis that is nearly gone, has no more severe swelling in a foot that has been swelling for 20 years and has no more back pain, which has ailed her for over a decade. You are truly amazing, woman! I miss you. Let’s get you to California ASAP. I can’t live without you. Really I can’t.

Haylie Redder. Thank you for loving Adam from the very beginning. Thank you for taking the time every Sunday to speak to him and show him and our family your love. Thank you for taking care of your sister in the summer. That is such a service to your parents. I’m so glad I got to meet your sister before we left. I miss you. Please keep in touch.

Caleb Shiley. Thank you for investing so much in every single Scout in your troop. Thank you for sacrificing your time to meet with Zac personally to make sure he would succeed in Scouts.  Thank you for encouraging independence and accountability for Zac. That you love the boys you work with is so incredibly apparent. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know you and for the many lessons you taught to Zac. Oh, and thanks for saving Scott and Adam when they capsized the canoe! Ha ha! And Annette Shiley – you are amazing. Painting, fencing, and a zillion other talents. You taught me that it’s never too late for anything that strikes your fancy and that we only live once, so go for it. We miss you guys.

Alissa Wiser – my Las Vegas comrade. Thank you for providing that shoulder for me in the beginning when I despised Arkansas. Thank you for having Ellie over when we were new and helping her adjust to Arkansas. I’m so glad we were able to be at Carly’s baptism in Las Vegas. What a fun thing, and Ellie will never forget that. Thank you for all of the rides to tumbling and for sharing sweet Bailey with me during play group. I loved getting to know her. Thank you for going above and beyond and picking the girls up from school so that Ellie wouldn’t have to ride with the “creepy” kids on your bus. You really didn’t have to do that. You are such a good friend. You have four of the sweetest girls and we miss you all.

Kjersten Hoyt. I loved your Relief Society lessons. Thank you for keeping it real and funny and on point. Thank you for rushing over with a glucose monitor-thingee. 😉 Thank you for showing us all that you really can raise five girls and survive. You are amazing.

Amy Owen. Thank you for organizing one of the most fun and entertaining mommy-daughter girls’ nights out ever. We had a blast. You introduced us to Just Dance as well. We are now forever fans. Thank you for the invite to go boating. And for having Zac over to hang out. Thank you to Kyle Owen for having our boys on the boat and hanging in there until Adam got his groove on and became brave enough to get in the water with the tube! Thank you also for helping us load the moving trucks!

Carrie Wilde. Thank you for teaching me a little something about strength and fortitude. I know that we never got to know one another very well, but please know how much I respect and appreciate you.

Cori Graham. Thanks for having us over for dinner. We adore your family. Ellie and Zac miss Megs and Wes and I miss you! Thank you for telling it like it is and thank you for coming Trick or Treating with us. We were missing family Halloween traditions and your family pounding the streets for candy that night with our family was just what the doctor ordered. So, no more driving to Utah in one day, right? P.S. It may be selfish of me, but I’m kinda glad you didn’t go to China. That means when we make our annual trek back to Arkansas, you’ll be there to visit.

Debi McNeal – I’m so glad we found one another when we were both really missing home. We were in the same boat and it was nice to have a friend to commiserate with. I’m also glad that Travis and Scott had one another to rely on as newbies. Please tell Travis thank you for all of the help with our move. NWA’s a good place. If I were you, I wouldn’t leave. I loved getting to know you. Glad we squeezed an adult night out in before we left. Miss you.

Dana McKasson – thank you for opening up your home for bread day every other Sunday. You guys are so amazing to offer that service for everyone. It was great to get to know you and the generous, kind and compassionate person that you are. It was a fun Thanksgiving.

Bishop Harley Jarvis – thank you for everything. You’ve got this amazing ability to make each and every newbie feel as if they are your favorite. Thank you for making sure you pronounced everyone’s name perfectly. Thank you for your lunches out with Scott and your visits to our home when we really didn’t know what to do. (Still not sure leaving AR was the right move) but we’ll bloom where we are planted. Thank you for staying at the church sometimes until late, late, late and missing dinners with your family and all of this for your ward family. As if you hadn’t already done enough for our family, thank you for helping with our move. We appreciate your service and miss your entire family. P.S. Be sure to thank Josh for always keeping Scott’s Sunday School class animated and interesting! He’s an awesome kid!

Jenna Jarvis – thank you for making an extra effort to always say hi to Adam. Your kindness towards him will never be forgotten. I can’t wait to see what life holds for you – you special, beautiful young woman, you.

Jill Jarvis – thank you for sacrificing time with your hubby. I know that has to be so hard. You are a better woman than I. I don’t know how you do everything you do with the grace and integrity that you do it, but I have so much respect and admiration for you. I loved your lessons in Relief Society. They were always, without fail, awesome. Oh, and thank you for welcoming Adam into your mini van when he just decided to make himself at home there! That was a fun night. Miss you.

Heidi Kittleson – I loved our monthly visits. I miss them. Your girls are such a crack up! Thank you for indulging Le Tara and I when we’d run off on some tangent. I’m sad that I won’t have the opportunity to be Savannah’s preschool teacher. I was looking forward to that so much. You have an amazing family.

Kerri Judd – I know that we were just getting to know one another, but I’ve got to hand it to you. You must be doing something very, very right. Tanner is an amazing young man – please thank him for helping us load the U-hauls. And Parker worked so HARD at our house. You’re raising great kids and you’re a great mom.

Amy Jamison-Casas – thank you for….oh I don’t know….changing Adam’s life. Your thoughtful approach to his therapy has forever changed him. He’s doing things now I would’ve never dreamed possible for him. And thank you for letting your sweet Steven into my life. I miss you both so much, I’m quite sure I’ve got internal bleeding going on…just in the heart area.

Leslie Childs – Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me. You led us to Amy Jamison-Casas and the rest is history. Thank you for serving so diligently in the NWA autism community. You are a gem.

Kim Moss – It was only a brief time, but so much fun to work with you in Relief Society. Your new baby is precious. Congratulations again. And so sorry I had to leave the baby shower early – those darn basketball practices that Coach Scott had every Thursday night!

Linsey Grover – I loved being in your play group. Giselle is a doll and I’m happy to have been able to spend time with her. Thank you for being so positive in all that you do. I don’t think I ever saw you without a smile on your face and I appreciate that so much. You have such an awesome family.

Melanie McMurtrey – you’re raising infant triplets plus a 2-year-old. What can I say? You are amazing and positive and strong and generous. Thank you for reinforcing for me that even when life is really crazy and chaotic and hard, it can be happy and wonderful. You are awesome.

Ryan Bell. Thank you for coming to visit us when we’d only been in Arkansas a couple of weeks. You welcomed us right away and it made a difference. It was awesome to get to know you. Best of luck with your new responsibilities in the new ward. No doubts here that you will do awesome. Abbey – thanks for sharing your husband. I know his new responsibilities can’t be easy for you.

Sandy Olsen – thank you for all of your comments in Relief Society. We didn’t have a lot of moms that had already raised their kids in our ward and your wisdom and perspective was so appreciated and always left me feeling hopeful and inspired. Thank you for being honest, candid and real. Keep it up.

Leslee Lai – I loved our chats. I loved watching your husband bike-ride through the neighborhood with your five girls. I’m bummed that we missed the Chinese New Year celebration at your place. Word has it, the food was INCREDIBLE. And like Kjersten, you’ve shown the world that raising five girls can be done and can be done well!

Keliiliki Family – we’ve admired you from afar for over a year and just never told you. You’re a great family. Thank you for all of the hard labor on our behalf the day of our move.

Alex Howe – Thanks for being a trooper with Shana and keeping so many kids so that so many others could have an adult night out. Scott says he’s never seen anyone work as hard as you did the day of our move. Thank you!

We miss you Arkansas friends. We will keep you in our hearts forever and make sure to visit at least once a year. Thank you for your friendship, your generosity and your examples. I don’t have to tell you this, but you’ve got something really special brewing in NWA.

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