Yes, we really won the lottery.  Sort of.

While I was teaching I heard of something called The Teacher Next Door program.  Through the program, teachers can get certain HUD homes at half price.  A house at half price?  Say no more.  Dallas and I were sold.  The only problem was the houses were generally in very bad disrepair and in neighborhoods that are run down and in need of revitalization.  Undeterred, we knew we were destined to become the proud homeowners of one of those dumps.

The other problem was that the only way to get one of these houses was to submit paperwork saying you were interested in the house and the computer would randomly choose who got it.

Ever since we got married, Dallas and I had been trying to become the lucky winners.  Every time we saw a house that qualified on the website we’d go visit it, peer through its windows, and start dreaming about our perfect life there.  Sometimes couples who actually had a realtor would be there and we’d get to go inside.  That’s when we’d be greeted with the black mold, the holey walls, and the leaky roofs.  So what?  The house was half off!  We could fix it up.

Every time we entered the drawing.  Every time the computer passed us by.

Every time.

Until one time.

I was done teaching for the day and knew it was time for the results of the latest winners to be posted.  I pulled out my paper with my confirmation number and scanned the list.  A cute little condo had come up for sale that week.  Dallas and I had visited it.  We had walked all around the condo complex.  I knew this was our house.  I knew it.

I looked at my number.  I looked at the number on the screen.  Oh my goodness, they looked very similar.  I looked more carefully at both numbers.  I think they’re the same.  Of course, the number was about 25 digits long so I tried to match each digit up as best I could with my shaky hands and my mounting enthusiasm.  I did this over and over again.

Each time with the same result.

The numbers were identical.  We won the house.  WE WON THE HOUSE!

I remember seeing Dallas and the first thing I said was, “We got it.”

I made Dallas look at the computer screen as I read our number off to him.  Sure enough, they matched.  I immediately called the housing office and they confirmed that we were the winners.  Dallas captured that moment:

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We felt so blessed to win the condo.  Of all the houses we had seen, this place was in the best shape by far.  No mold.  No missing heater.  No punched out windows.  The only fixes we needed to make were cosmetic.

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That little condo served us well. It was about 850 square feet – two bedrooms, one bathroom.

We lived there six years.  We made friends.  We brought three babies home to it.  We currently rent it out.  We still love it.

Dallas was on set at the LDS Motion Picture Studio as they were filming the Joseph Smith movie:

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Dallas painted our closet door in our first apartment.  I was a little upset by this considering we didn’t own the place, and I was pretty sure our landlords didn’t want a depiction of the sky, a house, the ground, and China on their door forever but Dallas assured me it would come right off.  It did:

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For my birthday Dallas and I went to the temple.  When we got there, Dallas realized he had “forgotten” his recommend.  We had to go all the way back home.  When we entered our apartment I knew something wasn’t right.  It was the weirdest feeling.  I could see little things were out of place.  I went into the kitchen.  Our friends and family popped out and yelled, “Surprise!”  Dallas had given me a surprise party.  So sweet…but still such a weird feeling to walk inside your house knowing it’s not how you left it.

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I was turning 24.  Dallas had to get creative with the candles:

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One night there was a huge windstorm.  Afterwards Dallas and I were in our apartment and the lights started doing strange things.  They’d get brighter and dimmer every few seconds.  We couldn’t figure out what was going on.  It was a Sunday so we decided first thing Monday morning we’d call the power company.

We didn’t last that long.

As we were walking home from church was saw smoke.  As we walked closer we realized it was coming from the general direction of our apartment.  As we turned onto our street we saw firefighters and trucks dousing our backyard.

Apparently the windstorm had knocked a tree onto some power lines.  One of them broke and was swinging freely.  Every time it hit another power line it would create a huge fireball that fell to the ground.  That’s why our lights were pulsing brighter.  One such fireball ignited the backyard and burned it all up, including the neighbor’s trampoline.  Luckily that was the only casualty and nothing else was damaged and no one was hurt.

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15For Halloween Dallas was his usual creative/obscure self and went as The Son of Man painting.  Call me and my family uncultured because we weren’t familiar with this piece of art but now that I know what it is, I love the costume.  I was still teaching first grade and decided to go as Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus books/movies:

 

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Dallas went fishing and came home victorious…and that’s no fish tale:

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Dallas’s mom was in charge of Provo’s Children’s Celebration of the Arts – a day where kids could go to the park and do all sorts of art projects.  It was such a fun activity.  Dallas and I enjoyed helping out:

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Jacob’s family came for Thanksgiving.  Here he is with Emma:

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And Natalie:

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My family all went to Las Vegas to see BYU play in some bowl game out there.

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We bought a car from my aunt Nani which we lovingly referred to as “The Nani.”  The Nani was replacing Dallas’s beloved Subaru.  Here he is ready to shed a tear when we realized its life was drawing to a close:

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You can see in the above picture what our parking situation was at the time.  There were three parking spots where we lived.  One was for our neighbors and two were for us.  We had been down to one car for a while so our neighbors started parking their extra car in our spot.  We didn’t mind…until we brought The Nani home.  We had to park her on the street the first night we had her because there was no room in the parking lot.  We got up the next morning to go to church and saw this:

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A busted out window.

We looked closer and saw this on the inside:

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A busted out console.  Someone vandalized The Nani on the very first night we had her!  We couldn’t believe it.  The ONE night we parked it on the street this happened.  We called the police but they couldn’t recover any good fingerprints.  The police officer told us that there were several vehicles along our street that had been broken into and one car was stolen.  That made us grateful that at least our car wasn’t the one that was stolen.