Sunday, March 25, 2018

Spring Broke

I need to get back on this blogging bandwagon, so here goes.  Spring break...ahhhhh...tiny seedlings popping through the dirt, birds singing their songs of twitterpation, March Madness, sunshine, blue skies, freedom from our mundane obligations.  Oh...wait...we're parents.  Illness.  We've been plagued with it.  It seems my many comments that went something like, "we have had SUCH a healthy fall," caught up to me and decided to murder my optimism.  We have been sick since a few weeks into 2018.  Even J and I fell to a horrible, but thankfully fast-moving virus at the beginning of all of this, but miraculously, we seemed to have hit a healthy stride the week before spring break.  We were ready!  We booked a large house in the Ozarks of Arkansas for the first part of spring break and we were ready for fun.  Until we woke up Saturday morning, stacks of luggage by the front door, notes for the pet-sitter on the counter and X-man plodded up the stairs, cheeks flushed, throat aching.

Ella in her travel-style with her
box o' princesses
Hoping for a quick resolution and knowing that his class has been passing strep around and that Ella Forever had just kicked the bug a week prior, J took him to Urgent Care.  Nope...not strep.  We decided to dose him with ibuprofen, pack everyone up (a bit later than we were planning) and went on our merry way with our fingers crossed.  The trip was uneventful.  We stopped for lunch along the way and one potty break...not that bad when you consider a Swagger Wagon full of 5 hooligans, a puppy (Avedis, our newest 4 legged addition) and 2 middle-aged fuddy-duds.  As we were nearing our destination, however, I noticed that Squeaky D was getting particularly whiney, but I attributed it to being over-done with the drive at that point.  We arrived to our 5-star-ranked-AirBnB-that-should-have-been-a-2-star (different story for a different day), unloaded the car and headed into Fayetteville for dinner.  Upon arriving at the unique eating establishment called Taco Bell (gimme a break...our standards have fallen after 5 kids), I pulled D out of the car and noted that he was rather toasty.  Another one bites the dust.  He opted out of eating and just wanted a water.

They look healthy right?
The next morning, with the help of some ibuprofen for those who might have been a bit under the weather and some beautiful Arkansas sunshine, we decided to go on a short hike in the Ozark Mountains.  The kids had a great time, the puppy was over the moon, J and I were care-free and life was good.  Until it wasn't.  Went to another little known culinary wonder called Whataburger and it was there that J jumped on the sicko wagon.  He was hurting.  My partner in crime was down for the count, but his sister was joining us for our vacationing adventure and was supposed to arrive that afternoon, so I put the sickies to bed and eagerly awaited her arrival for some much needed camaraderie and pep-talking.  After she got there, we chatted on the porch and Squeaky D came out very puny, complaining of ear pain.  I tried it all and made 2 separate trips to the local grocery store for different meds trying to keep him comfortable.  We made dinner, tended to our sickly charges and that was the end of Day 2.

Did I mention that J broke the camera on my phone trying
to take the following selfie?
At least we're cute...
Day 3 brought Jilly-bean down.  She started fevering that morning.  We made a quick outing to a sleepy little air and military museum in the little town we were staying with the help of ibuprofen, once again and then called it a day.  Day 3 in the books.

At least we have one family photo faking health!
A girl and her auntie...
This kid was in his element!

Couldn't resist this cool photo op!

Day 4 J woke up with his throat completely swollen and swallowing a chore. A quick run to Urgent Care confirmed that he had strep.  We decided to find an activity that would keep us quarantined from the general population and found a well-reviewed drive through safari less than an hour away and decided that it would be a perfect activity for a boat-load of petri dishes.  Let's just say that unless you want to see the puppy mill of exotic animals, you should probably skip Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari...we made the best of our day and the kids had fun, but my heart hurt quite harshly knowing that I funded any part of the establishment.  It was just another perfect example of our doomed trip and I could not have been more ready to be home.

My new friend!
Because a little chaos within the vehicle is just what
we needed!
Ella Forever just being her goofy self
After feeding this emu everything he had, X-man emphatically
begged for an emu all his own. No.

Despite our failed attempt at an adventure, here are some things that I learned...

1. I should have known after last year's spring break blog post.

2. It's possible to have fun in less than ideal living conditions with minimal's the company that really matters.

3. Ibuprofen is our friend.  I really try not to take a lot of medications myself and only give it to the kids when they REALLY need it.  Usually.  This week I handed it to them like candy and we wouldn't have survived with out it.

4. Sisters-in-law are invaluable.  I am forever indebted to Liz for bringing lots of goodies to keep the kids occupied when we were laying low, for piggy-backing one particular sickie through an entire museum and just for being good company.  Oh...and for risking your own health to "play" with us for the week.

5. Arkansas is beautiful and Fayetteville is a really cool little town.

6. Home is really really great.

Everyone finally got better...mostly.  I took Squeaky D into our regular doctor the day after we got back and she confirmed that he had ruptured his ear drum for the 2nd year in a row.  He is trucking along on his antibiotics and seems to have made a full recovery.  Jilly-bean still had a mild fever this morning.  I really need summer to get here.

We got some good ballin' in at the school once we got back
Don't be jealous of the skillz, ya'll!
Turns out...he's a monkey!
I LOVE Ella's face in this pic!
Dog pile on the dog bed this morning
We have had beautiful weather since we got back and the kids have spent nearly every day outside all day digging holes in our field...because, you know...holes are fun!  And I truly did miss my little sliver of paradise and our challenging time away just reinforced that.  Home is a really great place to be.  Which is really good because it is probably where we will be next spring break! :)

Home sweet home

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