Friday, May 26, 2017

House Love

We knew when we moved into this big old old house that we had our work cut out for us, but thankfully I am married to this guy who just doesn't know how to sit down and relax.  If there isn't a project to at least be planning for he gets restless.  This house makes for a very happy husband!  Turns out it makes for a happy wife too...this place gets more and more amazing with the completion of each project.  In fact, even with the giant projects on the horizon that are incomplete or not even started, I have a hard time imagining how it could be more perfect for us.  I think it is safe to say I am smitten.  We are all smitten!

Let's see...since we moved in not quite 4 years ago we (by "we" I mean "mostly J") have finished the basement (it had sheet rocked walls and drop ceilings and horrible outdoor carpet placed right on the concrete and was CREEPY), re-did the half bath on the main floor, replaced the horrible carpet on the main floor with hardwood, got a new roof and gutters, built a giant chicken palace/shed and built a tree house in our tree line.  There have been countless smaller projects and honey do lists in there and a ton of tree trimming and tree removal.  We have already seen huge transformation, but our house isn't even close to the place it will be when we are done with it.

We have had this problem area right off of our back deck since we moved in.  Let's be honest...we live in the country.  We don't grow grass, we grow weeds...but only in the places where weeds grow.  The rest is mud.  The previous owner put this little brick path from our deck stairs to the back door entering the garage leaving this giant, awkward space where only weeds grew.  It was too big of a space to landscape, so it was just ignored and shabby, to be dealt with when we eventually decided to add a big patio or something.  Well, that time came upon us suddenly.  As spring moved in, our mud pit became as annoying as it does every year.  Chickens scratching up what little weed growth there had been and dogs and kids tearing up the rest meant momma was cleaning up little muddy paw and toe prints all day every day.  I started noticing this trend of loose rock patios in pictures as I perused for other home improvement ideas.  This was doable for this space!  We kept putting off the idea of a true patio because of our leveling issues with the tree you can see in the picture and the roots that are all around there, but this would cover the mud and make this space usable.  No sooner had I mentioned the idea to J, then we were placing our order for rock to be delivered that following weekend (you can see the giant piles in the background of this picture).

By the weekend following our initial rock delivery we had a new patio!  Don't get me wrong, we paid for this with our bones...we were so sore for days following the completion. However, this space has seriously changed our lives...the amount of time we have spent here has already paid for itself.  I couldn't be happier!  AND...the rain just soaks right through the rock and the amount of mud prints in the house has decreased drastically.  I am a happy momma!

View from the north facing south.  You can see a child in the fire pit that J built as well.
I should have been happy with that alone, right?  Nope.  I insisted that J tear the front railing off of that deck and extend the stairs all the way around to open up that whole space.  It had just the effect I was looking for.  Now it is all one big open usable space.  We can plop down on the steps and watch the kids play and the chickens range.  I am so in love!

Ella Forever can swing to her little heart's delight without her mom having to say, "'s too muddy!"

The finished product!  Even the dogs are happy...this has become their favorite lookout.
It's become our favorite picture taking spot too!

The kids (with a smidgeon of help from Dad) got me this bird house and bird bath for Mother's Day.  I had J bury this old post that was left up in the rafters of our garage and mount the bird house and feeders on it and then laid the brick around it.  I'm trying to grow native wildflowers in the dirt around it and have the area fenced off from kids and chickens to foster that, but so far haven't had much luck.  This WILL be my bird, bee and butterfly garden, though.  I WILL get my wildflowers! ;)

And then there's this!  Nothing more perfect than sitting near a crackling fire on a beautiful evening and watching the sun go down.

Upward and onward!  The first day we looked at this old house, everything was completely livable to me.  The basement was creepy, but we didn't need that space right away.  The carpet was not my taste, but it would work until we could rip it up.  The roof was old, but it was doing its job.  The upstairs bath, however, was atrocious and I hated it from the day we moved in.  Life happened, though, and other things took priority.  Ella Forever came to fruition a few short months after we moved in and we needed that extra space in the basement, so J finished it.  We fell victim to a giant storm and the basement flooded (leaving it needing finished again, unfortunately) and the need for a new roof became imminent.  What was once a white carpet (its best days were LONG before we moved in) became my biggest adversary in my war against mud with 5 kids and 2 dogs and the mud pit in the back, so J got rid of it.  My lovely bathroom remained as lovely as it was the day we moved in.  Until now.  We hired a contractor to come in and get the job done and he will also be redoing our kitchen later this summer. I am so excited I can hardly contain myself!  This is just the beginning of the journey, but I have promised several people pictures of the progress, so here we are. Now, don't get jealous when I show you these before pictures! ;)
I have asked the contractor if there is any way we can salvage the trendy peach and seafoam green seashell border.
Sadly, I think it has to go (I hope you are all reading my sarcasm here).

The luxurious jetted tub that I refuse to let the kids run no matter how much they beg.  I am not sure the filter had ever
been cleaned in this thing and I am so ecstatic that it is just out of my house now.

This gives you a good idea of the layout of the bathroom currently.  And the gorgeous 80s theme going on. 

Giant bank of cabinets...this space will be our future walk-in shower!

I've never been so ready to say goodbye to something in my life.  This
shower is gross. The tile around it just keeps popping up and we have just
glued it back down knowing it would be gone eventually.  

 I just think this is so beautiful! Think of how much work this would have been 115 years ago! <3 td="">

This is where we are left!  Confirmation that our house has good bones.
Up next, Plumbing!  Totally new layout and a return to its former
farmhouse glory.  Maybe glammed up a bit. ;)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Picture Update

We have had so much going on that I cannot keep up!  Time is just zooming past me and try as I may, I can't seem to slow it down. So...I will update in pictures! :)

I had almost forgotten about this first event until I went searching for pictures of some of our house updates.  April 1st...yes, April Fool's Day...I was getting ready for a date night with my main squeeze that had already been postponed two weeks prior when the kids all got sick.  I was standing at my dresser in my bedroom picking out earrings with my back to the bed and Squeaky D and Gokey were both giggling and lying there.  They weren't being particularly rambunctious or anything, but I heard a small bounce on the bed and then one of those gut-wrenching, sickening thuds.  I turned around to find Gokey on his feet and stumbling toward me with his hand over his brow.  I exclaimed how loud that was and asked him what he hit.  He apparently had launched off of the bed and smacked his head right into a space heater that was 5 or 6 feet from the bed.  It's not a very aggressive has nice curved edges and had never bitten before, but I guess this time it had had enough.  

I peeled his hand away from his forehead and expected to find a big ol' bump as is normal to find on Gokey's head, but instead discovered a gash that ran the length of his eyebrow and could see the gray muscle that would normally not be visible on someone's head.  I maybe didn't handle it so well, since I was totally unprepared for such a grisly discovery.  I stuck his hand back over it and started  saying something like, "oh no...not good.  Really not good."  This was met with panic from Gokey, "WHAT, MOM???  JUST TELL ME!  WHAT IS IT???????"  I rushed him into the bathroom, grabbed a wash cloth, stuck it over his eyebrow and shuffled him downstairs yelling for J.  Upon examination by Dad, we quickly determined that he needed to go to the ER.  Keep in mind, this was about 4:20 on a night when our date was supposed to begin around 5:15.

After they left, I texted my aunt (the intended babysitter), mom and sister to let them know what was up, but mentioned that if the ER was quick enough, we would still be up for a delayed date night if Nana was still up for it.  Turns out she was up for it and the ER was super fast.  Seven stitches and less than an our later he was out of there.  J returned with him, I showed Nana where the ibuprofen was and we ran as fast as we could.  Later, when we got home, she joked with us about how 8 years ago we would have immediately cancelled our date and hovered over our injured child.  Now we race him to the hospital, get him stitched up, dump him at home and then escape as fast as possible before another injury occurs.  My, how time (and a few extra kids) changes things!

Waiting at the hospital

Couldn't resist the gruesome mid-stitch pic!

All fixed up!
Progression from immediately after returning home from the hospital in the upper left corner to stitches out a week
later in the bottom right pic.  There were lots of colors and a ton of swelling, but it looks so good now!
J and Jilly Bean got to experience their very first Daddy Daughter Dance  and it was quite the event!  J even painted Jilly's nails for her...what a guy!  I'm pretty sure he will be the only first date she ever has that does that. They exchanged flowers, posed for pictures and then J took her to her favorite Chinese buffet for dinner followed by the dance.  Sounds like they all had a great time.

Such a gentleman!

Have you ever seen a more beautiful couple?

Pam Weaver Photography took pictures at the event
Next up...Gokey turned 8!  He is my Cinco de Mayo baby so he decided to have a taco bar with a few friends followed by strawberry shortcake.  It was a beautiful day and it was the perfect occasion to break our new patio in (details in the next post).
I love this age...they are so fun to just listen in on.

He said he wanted strawberry shortcake and I delivered and his brother was on
standby to deliver the bunny ears.

Gokey insisted on bobbing for apples...any excuse to get drenched!

Got it!
The big kids had their last day of school on Friday.  Squeaky D finished up preschool the first week of May, so he's been in summer mode for a while already.  I am still shocked that this school year is over with, but summer is my favorite time and I love having everyone home...mostly.  There is still a lot of working out of the new hierarchy to be done now that they are spending 24/7 together.  I find myself praying for patience for a good part of my day already!

Ella Forever insisted on getting in on the last day pics.  Poor
Jilly Bean woke up puking at 4:30 that morning, so she had
to stay home from school on the LAST day.  What a bummer!

Poor sick girl who wasn't actually sick...she was fine the whole rest of the day

Gokey...why does he suddenly look so grown?

And this one...only one more year of elementary school!

The obligatory silly pic

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Ducks and Chickies and Kitties...OH MY!!!

Big things are happening at Kneuper Acres and our newest arrivals are here with webbed feeties!  Waaaaayyyy back in February after doing a bit of research and deciding on a breed, we ordered 10 Welsh Harlequin Ducklings.  Since ducks are seasonal breeders, our potential ducklings wouldn't be shipped until April and we were told that we would get a call mid March to let us know when we could expect them.  Now, I feel like the last 3 years of my life have flown by, but that month and a half from ordering them to "the call" must have just crawled for poor Gokey.  He came home from school every day and the first thing out of his mouth would be, "did ya get the call?"  This child wears every emotion and I am sure everyone who knows him can envision the fallen shoulders and forlorn expression when I would tell him no.

"The call" finally did come, though and we were told that we could expect our ducklings the week of April 24th.  It's quite the operation!  They have thousands of eggs that are set in incubators to hatch Monday into Tuesday of their hatch week.  As soon as the ducklings are up and fluffy, they are placed into boxes and shipped out all over the country, their huddled bodies as their heat source and their absorbed yolk from their previous eggshell home as their nutrition.  

We got notification that our package was on it's way from Oregon on Tuesday afternoon, April 25th and that they should be at our local post office no later than Thursday.  I called the post office to give them a heads up and was assured that they LOVE ducklings, so they should be in good hands until I could get there to pick them up. Bright and early Thursday morning as I was getting breakfasts ready for the kids, I got a call and Gokey immediately beamed.  Our ducks were here!  I quickly jumped into some clothes, called the bus barn to tell them not to pick the kids up for school, threw a pajama-clad Squeaky D and Ella Forever into the van and I was off.  

Upon arriving at the post office I was greeted by the peeps of tiny birdlings...there was another gentleman there picking up his shipment of quail chicks.  He opened the box to get a peek of his order and I got a glimpse of the tiniest balls of fuzziness I have ever seen!  I quickly opened my own box and all 10 Welsh Harlequins and 2 extra ducklings (sometimes extras are added to orders for heat) called Golden Cascades were all peering up at me, healthy, though a bit terrified.

So...3 1/2 weeks later we are the proud parents of 11 rapidly growing ducklings and they have been fantastic entertainment in the short few weeks we have had them.  Each of the kids picked a suspected female, except Squeaky D who picked a male, and named them.  X-Man's is Maggie, Gokey's is Louise (he picked this name out about 2 weeks after we ordered them...I sure hope she stays a she), Jillibean's is Rosie, Squeaky D's is Wobbles and Ella Forever's was Two (sadly, we lost Two a week ago).  The other 7 are nameless at the moment because they're really hard to tell apart unless they are banded, aside from the 2 extras.

Ella Forever and Two
Squeaky D and a lapful of ducky love

X-man snuggling Maggie

I think Gokey is whispering sweet nothings to Louise

Their first swim!!!

A ducky trio safely cradled by Jilly Bean

Jilly and Rosie

Exploring the great outdoors

Dottie is very affectionately fascinated by these new arrivals

This is one of the Golden Cascades...see the little eye stripes?  So cute...

Wilma would like a taste...

The rest of our flock has introduced themselves one by one...this is one of our pretty Ameraucana girls

They fought and fought over these giant leaves

Our strapping too is strangely very protective of his new charges

Settling in for a nap in the sun
We have had SO much rain this spring and the edges of our yard along the east pasture is a normal puddle place when we have excess rainfall.  I decided to bring the ducklings all down to enjoy some real swimming.  They couldn't get enough of it! I could sit and watch them forever, especially when they start zipping and darting which starts just after I zoom in in the following video.

And here we are 3 weeks later!  Look how much they have grown!!!

They don't quite fit in the palms of their little hands anymore
(and Jilly's hair was out of control today...wind didn't help) :)

Ducks gone wild!!!  They really aren't fans of being held...

In all of our duck mayhem, our latest broody chicken, Flopsy, hatched out 7 sweet chickies on Mother's Day!

I love the way they're looking at each other

And because we didn't have enough going on, we have also added a fierce Coop Cat
to the mix!  Meet Cooper B. StinkyCat.  We are in love with this guy!
And I have to end this little diddy with a shout out and a big congrats to my Uncle Dave and my NOW Auntie Darbie on their wedding day today!  I wish we could be there to celebrate with you guys, but know that we are there in spirit and sending wishes for many many many beautiful, enchanting forevers together!  We love you guys! <3 p="">