The Watchman

The Watchman

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Scandal

I have been raised on stories of my ancestors. Every Memorial Day when I was a child, our family would gather together and assemble bouquets of flowers cut from our gardens. It seemed like we would do hundreds, but I am sure it wasn't that many. After the production, we would then travel from cemetary to cemetary to place these flowers on the graves of our deceased. At each stop, we would be regaled with stories of the various individuals and the role they played in our history.

This is still a tradition my family continues, only with mums purchased at the store. But the important thing is that my children have been able to hear the stories that I enjoyed as a child. They have a great heritage.

I remember as a young girl being told of my cousin Geral. She was the only daughter of my grandma's sister and her husband, but had died as a young girl and brought back to Utah to be buried with her family. My grandma always made a point of making a special arrangement for this niece and it was an honor to be selected to place the bouquet by her headstone.

I also remember stories of my grandfather Levi Roberts who served in the Mormon Battallion and then went on to Sutter's Mill during the gold rush. Then there is my grandfather Henderikus Dijkema who sold everything in his native Holland, brought his whole family to America and upon reaching Ellis Island had his name changed to Henry Dickamore in order to enter this country. This is the name my own father also bears. I have ancestors who came to America in its infancy, while on my father's side, I am the third generation to be born here.

The stories of how lives become intertwined is also fascinating to me. When Rick was in the military, we were always able to find a connection with someone. One such experience was when we living in El Paso, Texas. At that time our LDS Bishop was a man named John Smith. He was an incredible man who showed a great love not only for the Lord, but also for every member of his ward. We looked forward to the monthly ward pot-lucks and other activities. Rick's next duty station took us to Colorado Springs, Colorado. One night we were at dinner with another couple from the neighborhood. They were asking us the normal questions you ask when getting to know someone. As the conversation progressed it was discovered that they knew our friends the Smiths. This connection was not made in Texas though, or even in the United States. It was made in Switzerland where they had lived for a brief time. How small the world can be.

As I grew up, I learned that the stories shared with us at graveside were at times a censored or highly edited version of the whole story. There were many stories told then, that as I have studied my ancestors in my adulthood, I hear the voice say "And now for the rest of the story...." I understand that it is in our nature to romanticize or idolize an individual and in doing that we only look to the good or the positive as we perceive it. But to me, the struggles of these ancestors and how they persevered make them real. The examples of how they fell, but got back up again are the truly inspiring stories to me.

When I met Rick, I was amazed to learn that he had a very limited knowledge of his ancestors. Something that had been such and integral part of my life was relegated to the periphery of his. One of our first dates was to the annual Memorial Day Family Reunion with the descendents of my great-grandparents, Walton Anthony and Olive Corbridge Roberts, my maternal grandmother's family. Rick has said that he knew then that he wanted to be a part of this family.
I think the interaction with my family inspired Rick to learn more about his family. At subsequent family gatherings of his relatives, he would listen and ask questions. One of the first stories I remember hearing involved his great-great-great grandfather, Solomon Wixom. Solomon was a peer of the early Mormon leaders and was involved in the early history of the Mormon Church. As such, he had at times multiple wives. When the Mormon pioneers left their beloved City of Nauvoo was one of these times. During this period in history, Solomon had two wives, Sarah and Harriet. When the Saints headed West, Sarah was too ill to travel. Solomon needed to stay behind and care for his wife and their children. Harriet made the decision to take their son and travel with her parents and the main body of pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley. Following Sarah's death, Solomon travelled West with his and Sarah's sons with the idea of reuniting with Harriet and his son.

Upon arrival in Salt Lake City, Solomon was dismayed to learn that not only had Harriet obtained a divorce, but she had remarried and changed their son's name to that of her new husband. This boy was in his 70s before he was reunited with his Wixom relatives. For a family that traces its lineage to the Mayflower and on to England, the willful discarding of the name and accompanying heritage was a true scandal.

Recently, I started reading the journal of my great-great-....grandmother, Patty Bartlett Sessions. Prior to reading this book, the most that I knew about her was that she had been a midwife in the early days of the Mormon church who delivered over 400 babies during her career. She was also an independent woman who left a sizeable fortune to her family upon her death. I have since learned that she started a school to educate her grandchildren and children whose parents could not afford to send them to school. This school was funded solely by her. I also learned that she was the midwife who delivered many of my ancestors and Rick's ancestors. How intertwined our lives can be!

But there was one name in the journals that jumped out at me - Harriet Teeples Wixom. Yes, the same Harriet that had divorced Rick's grandfather. Why was she mentioned in my grandmother's journal? Yes, my grandmother had delivered Solomon and Harriet's son. But the connection was found to be even greater - the man Harriet married, who adopted her son and changed his name, was none other than Patty's husband, David Sessions, my great-great-...grandfather.

At the next Wixom family get-together, I am going to have my own "Rest of the Story" moment. I hope the part that my ancestors played in the scandal doesn't get me disowned.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Worst Day

This is an essay Wil wrote for his English class. I thought I would share it.

The day had been just like any other Saturday. The sun was hot, the pool was refreshing, and the day was long. The day had been like any other Saturday. The lifeguards were talking about what they were going to do after work, and discussing the whereabouts of the source of the big pillar of black smoke. The day had been just like any other Saturday. After swimming a few laps, I had to get out of the cool water and go on stand. And that’s when I saw him. The police officer that was walking towards the guard shack. While I was wondering what he was doing here, (probably something dealing with the snack shack again), he asked me if I was Wil. Confirming that I was, I started to walk towards him thinking about what I possibly could have done. The actual reason he was there was far different and far worse than I could have imagined. And that’s when he gave me the bad news that knocked the wind out of me like a ton of bricks. “Wil, your house just burned down.”

A few days later I was told that I must have gone into shock after I was told this horrible news. Whether I did go into shock or not, my thoughts were the same. At first I thought that he was joking. I thought that my mom had set up this clever, sick ruse and it was all just a joke. Even though that’s what I was thinking, rather hoping, I knew it wasn’t true. The police officer told me that all my family was okay and that he was there to take me to my grandmother’s house. After a few moments of gathering up my things, my mind racing with so many thoughts that I couldn’t even understand, I left the pool with the police officer and headed to my grandmother’s house. During the car ride the police officer and I asked questions back and forth to one another trying to kill the stunned silence that had enveloped the police truck. As we got closer and closer to La Verkin, I tried to keep denying what he had said in my mind, but I just wasn’t able to. As we got closer and closer to the grocery store, the smoke was getting bigger and more ominous. As we got closer and closer to my grandma’s house, I was able to clearly see the burning wreck of my home and that’s when I knew that my life was going to seriously be altered by this.

When we arrived at my grandmother’s house, my family and one of our dogs were all there, except for my dad who was up at the house still. I realized then that all of our other pets were gone. Looking at my family members, I realized that I had more possessions than the rest of my family put together. They didn’t have things with them that they normally wouldn’t leave the house with. Namely, a pair of shoes and their cell phones. After a short time of hugging and talking with my family I went upstairs and tried to hide myself from the world. From where I was sitting there was a window that looked directly at my house. I’m glad the blinds were down, because I don’t think I would have been able to tear my eyes away from the fire. As I was sitting alone upstairs my mom came up to talk to me. I don’t even recall what exactly we talked about but I remember that it was a short conversation that didn’t involve much talking, and it took a lot of my strength not to start bawling like my mom. She left after a while of silence telling me she was going up to the house to see if there was anything she could do to help.

I stayed upstairs for some time thinking many thoughts about why this happened. What did my family do to deserve this? Were we being punished for something or were we just unlucky? When I finally decided that these questions could not yet be answered in my mind, I went downstairs to be a part of the chaos which had become of my grandmother’s quiet home. There were so many people bringing my family things like clothes, food, and bedding materials. When I got downstairs the first thing I did was get on Facebook. I wanted to talk to someone and get my mind off of what was happening. Fortunately, the person I wanted to talk to most was online and we talked for a few hours about nothing involving the fire. When she found out about it, we talked about that, but we tried to avoid that subject mostly. I had made plans earlier that week to go to the movie theater and that’s all I wanted to do right then. I wanted to get out of La Verkin, away from all these crying people bringing my family things. Away from the house on the hill that was still smoldering. Away from all the emotions that were filling me up about ready to make me explode. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to the movies so I was stuck at my grandma’s house right in the center of all this commotion.

Facebook, my one way to get away from what was going on, was also a way for everyone who were my friends and were online, that knew what was going on, to tell me how sorry they were and asking if they could do anything to help. That’s what everyone was saying. People would come over with a bag of clothes and ask if they could do anything else to help. People came over with food they had in their fridges and asked if they could do anything else to help. People would come over, people I didn’t even know, some I still don’t know and give us their condolences and hugs and ask us if there was anything else they could do. None of these people, none of them will ever know how much they helped. For weeks after the fire my family was asked everywhere we went how we were doing. And we would always say we were fine and thank them for their concern, but in truth we were far better than fine, because we had so many people there for us that we were just overwhelmed with love.

For the longest time, I have had a certain opinion about people. That opinion was that people were selfish and greedy. That they may say that they’ll do something for someone they may not even know,but when it came down to it, they really wouldn’t. I thought that everyone was like that, including me, and that no one was an exception. I’m not the kind of person who likes to admit when I’m wrong, but that night I was proved wrong. I was proved so wrong in fact that in the future, if this kind of thing happens to someone near me I will do everything and anything I can do to help them because I know what it’s like. Although I would consider this to be the worst thing that has happened to me so far in my life, my perception about people has changed and I have changed myself. The night of the fire I slept better than I thought I would and I know it was because I had been surrounded by the love of my family and friends, strangers and God.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Still Moving Forward

So the last few weeks have been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. When the boys were little, we took them to The North Pole, an amusement park outside of Colorado Springs. The great thing about this park was that if your child was not enjoying the ride, you could raise your hand and the operator would stop the ride and let you off, then the ride would continue. There have been many times these last weeks that I wished I could raise my hand and get off this ride.

Some of the lowpoints of the last few weeks:
  • Work continues to be a game of politics, all while the workload piles up with additional duties and fewer people to do the job. Not a day has gone by without at least one phone call asking me where something is and when will it be done. Never in my career have I ever been so far behind or so disorganized. I have piles everywhere in my office and I'm not even sure what is in them anymore. I know things are being missed and this is not something I am known for.
  • The gentleman who started the fire reached a plea deal with the county attorney. We had previously asked the county attorney's office that we be consulted regarding sentencing since we really felt that his circumstances were so much more extreme than ours that we did not want any restitution or exhorbitant fines. We were hoping that he could receive community service and terms that would not destroy his family. Unfortunately, what happened was that I received a phone call from the Chief of Police letting me know that he had been to court for the sentencing and that the judge had recommended restitution. The county attorney had asked him to contact us and have us call them. Once again, I was required to relive everything first on the phone with the county attorney's office and then as I drafted the required letter that they needed for the judge.
  • The insurance company is still dragging its feet. They have claimed for three weeks now that they are just about ready to issue us checks for our personal property, appurtenant structures (shed, fence, shade cover, etc) and for the next month's rent. None of these checks have so far arrived. We have also received nothing on the liability portion of our claim.
  • We are also concerned with the replacement value they will give us to replace on our home. We found out that the local adjustor had not submitted his reports to the Salt Lake office in over two months. Salt Lake wrote us to let us know that they could not proceed with establishing a value without the required information and wanted to know why it hadn't been sent. I referred the matter to our agent who reported to me that there had been words with the adjustor. Whether or not it was out of spite, when we received our copy of the report from the adjustor, he had reduced his valuation of our former home from $290,000 to $240,000. The determined replacement value of the home is all the insurance company will pay us to rebuild, so this number is important. It does not matter that we paid for $300,000 worth of coverage for the structure, we will receive what the insurance company determines based on their best guess what it would cost to rebuild the house we had.
  • The Friday before Labor Day, I was greeted on my return home from work by my daughters crying and my sons angry. There taped to the garage was a "Notice of Trustee's Sale". We have since been officially served by the Trustee and have spoken to the company. It appears that according to their records, our landlords have not made their payments and now the mortgage company has opted to sell the house to recoup some of their loss. Our landlords left a message stating that they were suprised by this and had been making payments according to their modified home loan and would work to get this resolved. Two weeks later, the mortgage company still claims that there are no payments and the sale will proceed on October 7th. After that date, we will be contacted on how to proceed with making our rent payment and we will have 90 days to vacate the home unless we can work out arrangements with the new owner.
  • Yesterday, Rick and I went "shopping". Actually it was more getting an idea of costs and what our choices would be for construction. I have looked at the reports from the adjustor and his contractor. Rick has only looked at the specs from the architect, who of course has designed a dream home. By the end of the exercise in reality, I realized that the process of rebuilding is changing my husband. He has never been an angry person, is usually the voice of reason. I have seen him become progressively angrier every time the insurance company is mentioned. I have to admit it is scaring me.
  • Rick is not the only one whose personality has changed since the fire. Lela stills suffers from anxiety attacks where she becomes so sick she cannot leave the house, Emily spends hours listing everything that she no longer owns whether through writing lists or drawing pictures and Wil has become less expressive and more sullen. He spends alot of time in his room and/or texting his friends, but not talking to us. Only Jon appears unaffected, but there is a part of me that is waiting for that shoe to fall since he was the one who was almost trapped by the fire when we escaped from our house. I don't know how Hunter is doing. We try to keep things positive from our end and I know he is doing the same. Occasionally there are comments about how when he comes home it will not be in any way to the life he left. I have heard more from the families he is serving in Montana. In his case, I have to have faith that the Lord will take care of him since I cannot be there.
I find myself becoming more and more exhausted both physically and emotionally. I am more prone to break into tears at the least provocation. My resiliency is gone. I know we have been truly blessed and continue to be so. That is what keeps me going through the day-to-day struggles. I have amazing friends who are going through struggles of their own with amazing grace and courage. I look to them as an example and for inspiration.

One such friend posted today on Facebook that her weeked was one of joy and sorrow. That got me thinking of the some of my favorite scriptures. Ecclesiates tells that to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. This has always been one of my favorites and I had versions of it throughout my house. The scriptures also teach that there must be opposition in all things. If we do not experience sorrow, we cannot fully appreciate joy. Another of my dear friends posted "Although fate determines the circumstances, how you react depends on your character."

So here are the ups:
Homecoming - Hurricane defeated Dixie in an awesome game and Wil did a great job conducting the band as they pepped. Then both Wil and Jon went to the dance with incredible girls. It was Jon's first date and Laura's first date. She is the youngest and only daughter with many older brothers. Jon was met in the front yard by some of the men in her family dressed as hicks holding guns. He thought it was hysterical, since we have a family joke regarding the poor young men who try to date Lela and Emily.
  • Lela started playing the violin and I can actually stand to be in the house with her when she practices. Maybe the noise will get worse, but she is enjoying it and is excited to go to class.
  • Emily and I sat on the couch and took turns reading stories. She loves books and has started to carrying a couple with her wherever she goes.
  • Jon found his bass clarinet. We thought it had been lost in the fire, but while cleaning the band room, it was discovered on a shelf. He had completely forgotten that he had taken it to school and left it there. The poor band teacher had joked with Wil that he could not use "I left my instrument at school in case my house burned down" as an excuse for not practicing. Now we have Jon's clarinet saved because it too was left at school.
  • Hunter wrote to say that he and his companion would be having a baptism yesterday. I am amazed at his growth and the service he is able to provide to the people in Montana. He sent us pictures and then later in the week I received an email from a family in Montana with accompanying picture. It is good to know that there are wonderful people taking care of him.
  • We received plans from the architect and the should have the permit set this week so we can obtain a building permit. We also received our first draw from the mortgage company to cover these expenses so I can breath a little easier when it comes to finances.
  • We had a Christmas preview at our house this week. I came home to find half a dozen boxes on my bed. They all contained Christmas ornaments and nativity sets. I have become an expert at surfing the internet in order to find those items no longer available in stores that my children have placed on their "wish" lists. We had a blast opening everything and reminiscing. I was even able to find and purchase the "birthday plate". This is a plate that we use whenever there is birthday or someone's special day to celebrate. To see it again brought smiles.
  • Wil built a Heroscape field on his bedroom floor and he and Jon played for hours. They also spent time teaching the girls how to play Pokemon and competing with each other.
  • While in Salt Lake for a conference, Rick learned of a store with a stash of Chevron cars. He was able to make a huge dent in reestablishing our collection.
In the song The Dance, Garth Brooks sings "I'm glad I didn't know the way it all would end...I could have missed the pain, but I'd of had to miss the dance." I don't know how all this is going to end. I have to believe that when it is over our family will be fine and better and stronger for the experience.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night.....

In 1995, Rick finished his Officer Basic Course in Virginia and Airborne school in Georgia and we moved from Petersburg, Virginia to El Paso, Texas where he would be stationed with the 3rd Armored Calvary. The move was made via Ogden, Utah where the majority of our belongings had been stored while we were in Virginia for the six months it took for Rick to complete his training. Because we knew that the moving truck towing one car would travel at a slower speed than those driving in our other car, the plan was for my sister and I to drive with the boys to El Paso and start looking for a house, while Rick and my dad took a longer, flatter route and followed behind with the moving van. It was anticipated that Gwen and I should arrive at least half a day before the truck.

Well, what we hadn't figured on was road construction and detours. As is often the case in Utah in the spring/summer, orange barrels and detour signs sprout everywhere as road crews rush to take advantage of the good weather and repair the damage caused by winter or make the many perceived improvements to the State highways. Not only did the numerous detours on our route put us behind, but since this was in the days before Garmins or GPS devices, we ended up on a whole different route than planned.

We ended up driving through the mountains of southwest Colorado. Now on any other occasion, this could have been quite beautiful, but this was not our experience. By this time it was night and quite dark. The road was full of switchbacks as it wound up and then back down. As we neared the summit it started to snow which caused the headlights to reflect back blinding us even more. To top it off, the boys were tired and hungry, needed diapers changed and started crying. I can remember my white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel as I focused on keeping the car on the road and not start screaming.

Needless to say, we all survived that night and made it to the hotel in El Paso. Rick and my dad arrived a few hours after us, instead of the anticipated half-day, fully rested from their night in a hotel in New Mexico. We were able to find a house to rent for our time in Texas that perfectly met our needs. Everything worked out just fine. We have driven that route numerous times since and it is quite lovely and has been very enjoyable.

Later we were stationed in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We were driving back to Colorado from a holiday weekend in Utah. At that time in life, with small boys and limited time to spend with family, we chose to do our driving at night. On this trip, we stopped in Laramie to fill the car with gas and change drivers. The boys and the dog were asleep and the sun was just starting to rise. As we were on a hill, Rick went to the inside lane to pass a semi that was slowing down. All of a sudden there was a loud thump and the windshield shattered. A young elk had jumped the cement wall to the left and landed right in front of our van. Rick was able to manuever to van to the shoulder and get it stopped. We were soon joined by an officer of the Wyoming Highway Patrol. As he was exiting his vehicle, looking at what remained of our van, he was on his radio calling for an ambulance. He was amazed to see us all standing safely and well on the side of the road.

This patrolman shuttled us back to Laramie. In Laramie, we rented a car to take us to Cheyenne. We then drove the rental car back to Laramie per the rental agreement. From Laramie we drove to Colorado Springs where Rick reported for his month assignment to Fort Irwin. My mom flew out and helped me transport the second rental car back to Cheyenne, again per the rental agreement, and back to Laramie to finish cleaning out our totalled van. By the time Rick returned from California, I had settled with the insurance company, purchased one new car and had found a second car for Rick. Rick continues to drive the truck we bought upon his return and the station wagon I purchased lasted until a couple of years ago.

Life is not always smooth and there are times when even the rough times get rougher. This week was one of the rougher times in our house adventure. We received a letter from the insurance company that has again raised more questions than it answered. We also learned that the adjustor assigned to our claim has not been forwarding the information to the claims office. We also received another valuation of our former home that put the cost to rebuild again at $240,000, but it still isn't "final". We were also requested by the claims office to no longer involve our local agent in our claims process. We will not listen to this last request, since the only results/progress we have received in the claim process is when our agent has gone over the heads of the people involved.

Then on Friday we came home to a "Notice of Trustee Sale" posted on the house we are renting. It appears that the house has been under foreclosure, but our landlords didn't tell us. I came home from work at 5:00 to crying girls who were worried that the sale of the house meant everything in it as well. Even though their brother had tried to calm them, he did not understand it either. The last few days have been spent trying to reassure our children that we will have a place to live, deal with the anger that has finally been expressed regarding our situation, and try to figure out what our next step is. Since we received the notice on a Friday of a holiday weekend, we have not been able to find out too much information. All we know now is that we should be able to stay here between 60 and 120 days more. If we can make it 120 days, we are confident that we will be able to have a home built. That is the goal and Tuesday will bring finding a way to get the 120 days and putting pressure where necessary to moving the rebuild process forward.

We have been following the progress of Hurricane Earl on the news. Our kids have asked lots of questions about hurricanes and were fascinated to learn that we had even been on the edge of one when we lived in Virginia. Part of the discussion included talking about the eye of the storm and how when you are in the eye, everything seems calm. Then the storm will move and you will be buffeted and tossed again. The last couple of months have been like the eye of the storm. We have had a chance to emotionally regroup and get our feet under us again. We are better prepared to deal with the turmoil that we will face as we are under a deadline to build a home. Our past has shown us that sunshine and clear weather follow the dark and stormy nights of life.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I'm an Addict

So I have to confess - I've become an ebay addict. I'm not sure which has me more hooked - the rush of adrenaline as the last seconds count down on an item I'm bidding for and winning or the smiles on my kids faces when the boxes show up on the doorstep to reveal some item they thought they would never see again.

My obsession started as I worked on completing the required inventory for the insurance company. So many of the things we had owned are no longer available in stores. As part of the inventory, we were required to provide a replacement cost for each item listed. Since I could no longer walk down to my local WalMart and create a price list, I turned to the internet. For so many of the items, Google provided suggestions through ebay. I quickly realized that ebay would be my most affordable choice if I wished to replace many of the items on our wishlist.

The wishlist was something we sat down after the fire and created. We asked the kids to come up with the items that they felt they would most miss from our home. We knew we would never be able to replace everything, but we hoped to be able to replace the most important things.

One thing all my boys mentioned was their Heroscape game. This game is a cross between Risk, Dungeons and Dragons, and Legos. The game comes in sets. A couple of times a year, especially around Christmas, a new wave of the game is released. There are large, medium and small expansion sets, as well as Master sets that contain many of the pieces used to build the playing fields.

My kids have been collecting the game since it was first introduced more years ago than I can count. They owned every set that had been released prior to the fire. Every Christmas, hours would be spent on building the playing field and then a week long game would ensue. Originally the playing field would fit on a table, but in recent years it had migrated to the family room floor. When I figured a replacement cost for the inventory, the dollar amount for the game was over $1,300. Unfortunately, the original sets are no longer available in the stores and Amazon showed the price for the first Master set as $200. This would be way beyond our budget.

Then along came ebay. In the course of one evening, I was able to make a dent in replacing the collection and only spent a little more than the Amazon asking price for one master set. I was able to acquire three master sets and over ten of the various expansion sets. Today the first boxes arrived. My two boys that are home were so excited that I even got hugs. They then retreated to their room to plan their next game.

My first ebay purchase was a set of whales for Hunter. It included a killer whale and baby, bottle-nosed dolphin and baby, sperm whale and narwhal. When I opened the boxes, I was hooked and could hardly wait to email Hunter and let him know what I had found.

Hunter has always been interested in whales and his favorite place to visit is Monterey, CA to attend the aquarium. The aquarium has a series of scale model whales suspended from the ceiling. It is truly an amazing sight. The year Hunter turned eleven we took the family to Monterey and went on a whale watching tour. The family was able to see many dolphins and a few whales. Even though the weather was not perfect, the kids all had a wonderful time.

During that trip, we purchased for Hunter a scale set of whales and babies from the Monterey Bay Aquarium similar to those that hang from the ceiling. This set has been displayed ever since in his room, along with a corresponding poster. Since these are also items that are no longer available in the store, I was very excited to find that they could be found on ebay.

For me personally, my most important purchase has been a replacement for my Jim Shore Heartwood Creek nativity. This nativity had been a part of my collection for more years than I can remember and I was saddened to learn that it was discontinued. It was not even available on sites like Amazon. Even though I had owned many different nativity sets, this one was my particular favorite. So hurray for ebay. I have to admit the bidding was very intense since this appears to be a very popular item and there are not many offered for auction. I had already lost one auction for this item, so I was very focused. I even postponed eating dinner as the final minutes counted down, but this time I was victorious.
I don't know how long this addiction will last. Hopefully it will be like Diet Coke and come and go. I now find myself spending less time surfing the listings as I make a dent in the wishlists. I am currently bidding on a collection of Disney movies. Movies such as The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and Aladdin are no longer available in stores or on the Disney Movie Site. Since my girls love their princesses (Emily had been planning on being Jasmine for Halloween), I am hoping to win this one as well. Wish me luck.