Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Little House on the Prairie

I know that I owe my two youngest children a birthday post a piece, but I thought I should write this post first, explaining WHY I am three months late on those posts with another looming this weekend.   J and I are not city people.  We have always lived in cities or towns, and never known otherwise, but we always knew that deep down inside...we were country folk.  Fairly early on in our dating career (it was long enough to be a career) we would dream about the little piece of world that we would inhabit someday and when we were married, we talked about it being our "10 year plan".  Well, it's only been 7 and, in all actuality, I really thought in this last year that we were probably on a 20 year plan if we were being realistic.  We had a nice house that we had done a ton of work to, we loved our house (with the exception of views of our neighbors' yards and dining rooms) and we had 4 very young kids, the oldest about to start school in a great district.  And then we watched houses all over our neighborhood going on the market and flying back off the market again.  A coworker of J's who lived just up the road sold his house in 5 days!  So...we talked about it for a few months and perused houses in the area on acreage.  This was actually doable!  We finally succumbed to the itch and called a highly recommended realtor in our area at the beginning of July and she got the ball rolling for us.

Our house officially went on the market on July 8th.  That began the that time we fell in love with an old, old farm house and it was snatched up immediately while our house sat.  We had several showings, which I might add, is a TON of fun to prepare for when you have a gaggle of little bitties.  The very first showing came 3 short days after our house had first been listed.  The buyers' agent had requested the showing overnight and so our realtor called at 7:30 a.m. to give us a heads up since she knew I would need the biggest jump I could get to undo the chaos that surely is my daily reality.  They were to arrive at 11 a.m., and it just so happens that my brother-in-law was visiting and this was the ONE morning that I had destroyed the kitchen making pancakes for everyone.  We shoved breakfast down, my brother-in-law got on the road to head back home and I went to work like a madwoman!  About 30 minutes before we were supposed to be out of the house, X-man came in from the backyard where he and Gokey and Jilly were playing and said that Gokey needed help.  "If you haven't noticed, I'm a tad bit busy...what does he need?"  Long story short, he crawled down into the window well to "rescue" a toad and then when he went to climb the ladder back out, he noticed a spider on one of the ladder rungs and was terrified to scale it.  In comes Mom to the rescue with a very busy Squeaky D strapped to my back in his carrier (no sense in cleaning when he is on foot in the house).  I pleaded with the terrified kid to just climb back up and stick to the side opposite where the spider was.  No go.  So then I take a good look and notice that the spider is, in fact, very dead and hanging from a web there.  "Look,'s dead!  Just climb up!"  "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"  So, I end up lying on my belly, baby on my back, stretching my arm as far into the well as possible, begging this kid to grab on so I can lift him out, all the while envisioning these people arriving to look at our half-cleaned house with a crazy woman and her insane kids covered in mud out back.  I did finally get him out and finished up my cleaning and ushering of children out of the house for the showing to happen.  It wasn't THE house for them, but we got very good, positive feedback from them and we continued to wait.

We were a little disappointed over the next 2 weeks as we didn't get a ton of action, but on July 30th we received a VERY good offer and after 24 hours of back and forth we settled on a contract for very near our asking price...a short 3 weeks after putting it on the market!  Then the panic set in!  I think I had kind of deluded myself into thinking that this was all just a fun experiment and selling would never really happen, but in fact, these people were very intentional! :) Part of their contract was that the closing date needed to be on August 29th as that was when they would be closing on the sale of their current house.  So the hunt for our perfect slice of the world rocked into full gear.  Our realtor began sending us lists of homes to look at.  There were a lot of "that looks OK", but none that just wowed us, but we began setting up showings.  And then one came was one that I had seen listed for quite some time, but the location had always made me write it off.  I thought it was just too far out of range considering the commute J would have to conquer daily.  But when the list was sent to J and I, he immediately fell in love with the house and began stalking it.  By the time he came home that day, he had Google Earth views of the land and plans for what we could do with it.  We also mapped his commute and found that it was really no farther time-wise than many of the other nearer homes we had looked at because of its close proximity to a main highway versus miles and miles of dirt roads to battle. It was also an old, old farm house built in 1902 and it was near a small town very close to where I grew up.  It was also priced very low compared to many of the other homes we were looking at, which did make me slightly nervous. we went to see it in person.  I would say we fell in love!  Not so much with the home in its current state, but with the potential!

The view out our OLD front door
Short story long (I'm a master at this), we did it!  It was a long 30 days filled with anxiety over appraisals and inspections and mortgage lenders who couldn't get their act together and finding the best lender EVER (talk to me if you need recommendations for lenders or realtors) and packing and cleaning and late school enrollments and trying our best to parent and prepare our littles in the midst of more chaos than is normal even here.  And, you know what?  We survived and here we are in this little piece of Heaven that we call Home.  Not a day has gone by, despite old, creaky floors and more crickets than you have EVER seen and drafty doors and dying furnaces and allergy attacks that never happened when we were city folk...that I haven't declared how much I LOVE this place!  I love looking out my bedroom window and seeing a Kansas Sunset with nothing but trees, farm fields and sky to distract me from the spectacle.  I love stepping out onto my rickety old front porch in the morning and feeling the warmth of the sun on the old wood beneath my feet and hearing the songs of a hundred different birds, roosters crowing and cows mooing in the distance.  I love watching the kids run without boundaries and making discoveries they never knew existed in our own yard.  I love the 4 million lady bugs that inhabit every leaf around our house and to hear Jilly's delight EVERY time she captures one of the poor creatures.  I love the bucket of rain boots I get to put next to the back door in the mud room inviting little feet to slip them on and take off to find their next adventure.  The only part of our old house that I miss isn't even something that is truly tangible.  I did shed a few tears driving away for the last time thinking about how I brought home two babies to that house and gave birth to one there.  Not something that I can bottle and take with me, but something that tied a lot of emotion to that home.  It was a good house...and served its purpose well and we grew our family and love there, but I think here is where we will see that love and family truly blossom.  We are in our element and I cannot wait to make our memories here!  We are truly blessed...
Evening view out our bedroom window

Entry hallway

White board for coloring in our Breakfast nook/play room

The flowers we picked in our OWN yard!

The boys...who knows? Admiring the sky?

Stella with her stick
Declan with Stella's stick :) 

Wonder how far I could get before they
catch me?

The magic of baling hay!
Sitting on our very first hay bale! :)

View toward the house form the driveway

View away from the house from the driveway on "Fire Night"

How we roll in the country!

Our little Tarzan!
Itty bitty toad!
Lady Bug!

The only neighbors we can see

Too much fun in the mud :)
I'll spare you the pics of him stripped
down to hose him off! Haha

J gettin' busy!  A little heavy landscaping
Chainsaw is pretty cool, but it's a little loud too!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Swimmy Swam!

Most of my days start with this question: "What are we gonna do that's fun today, Mom?"

I think X-man jolts from his slumber daily wondering what adventures we are going to encounter.  Mom, however, after a night trying to soothe a sleepless Jilly Bean and then encountering a trembling dog pile of kids in my bed after a GIANT bolt of lightening shook the earth at 4 a.m....well, all she wants is a big fat nap.  It seems, though, that adventure finds us and probably for the better.  Stumbling upon "Swimmy" in the middle of an empty road on the way back from a quick errand this morning was just the adventure the boys needed and gave me a little pep to keep me moving until naptime...a caffeine stand-in.

You can probably see how Swimmy got his name.  He was neatly tucked inside of his thick shell, far from swimming territory when I drove over him and a lightbulb clicked on.  What a needed distraction! I whipped the van around and parked in the middle of the road, hazards flashing.  The kids were alarmed and questioning their mother's sudden insanity as I jumped onto the road and scooped up the poor, startled slider.  I poked him through the van door to show the kidlins, planning on giving them a quick look and then escorting him to the other side of the road to avoid the dangers that were awaiting him on his journey.  It was X-man's amazed voice that changed the plan, "I've never seen a REAL turtle so close!"  Really?  Could that be possible with ME as his mother???  Well, in that case, we should just take him home and "science" him for a little bit before we find him a new, more suitable habitat than the middle of a road.  I should explain that X-man uses "science" as a verb in place of "study".  Just another of his little way of saying things that I cannot bear to correct yet.  So, Swimmy joined us on our short drive home.

We spent a just a little bit "sciencing" him in the back yard when we got home.  He wasn't really into showing off much, but they all got a kick out of touching his tough shell and even Stella enjoyed a sniff.  He did poke his front feet out a couple of times and if he thought you were reaching in toward his head he would tuck it even further back while opening his mouth.  X-man searched frantically for some earthworms to try to feed him, but came up empty handed and then we left him to sit in the grass for a bit in the yard while we ate some lunch.  The most movement we observed was his little head poking out, surveying the foreign, manicured lawn before him as we ate.

I promised them that we would take him down to our little neighborhood pond after lunch was cleaned up to introduce Swimmy to his new home.  Their excitement was boundless and there were several arguments over who was going to carry him on the way.  It was agreed that X-man would carry him for the first half of the trip and Gokey would take over from there.  Two times on the way through the house to the front, however, X-man threw the poor creature to the floor when he flipped his clawed feet out as if to assist in the reckless flight through the house, so his turtle carrying privileges were revoked and Gokey, very seriously picked up the task.  We loaded our red wagon with infant and toddler, X-man dutifully pulled brother and sister and Gokey pulled up the rear with Swimmy carefully clutched.

There was a bit of a squabble over who was going to set Mr. Swimmy free, but after reminding them that he may really start moving his little legs when the water got close, both boys chickened out and I had to heroically step in.  Gokey was my cameraman to record the epic event...he may need a bit more training!?  All in all, Mr. Swimmy made for quite the adventure and taught a good lesson in helping out where help is needed.  Being able to science a turtle for an hour or so was pretty cool too. :)  Thanks for the lift, Swimmy!

Jilly with a lure she found that needed
rescuing :)
More Cheesy D!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Summer Summer Summertime!

Declan's new cheesy smile...he flashes this mug anytime the camera is pointing in his direction!
School is out, the sun is shining, we've dodged tornadoes and are doing our best to enjoy some early June PERFECT weather now.  Summertime is upon us in Kansas and we are loving every (almost) second.  Just had to share a few pictures of my little cuties soaking in the sunshine and good times. :)

Who doesn't think that ice cream is one of summer's most iconic mascots.  My little crew had a sampling today and definitely left the evidence behind.  Thank goodness for hoses! :) 

Give it back!!!

We finally got the whole family out on our bikes now that Gokey is an ol' pro on his big boy bike.  This was Jilly's and Squeaky D's first ride in the trailer!

Happily Ever After!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bye Bye Thrashing Threes...Hello FANTASTIC Fours (Please???)

As I start this post, it is 5:47 p.m. on your fourth birthday.  At this exact moment four years ago, you had slipped fairly easily as births go into this world a mere 3 minutes earlier...and you were perfect!  Four years later, you are still perfect...and a challenge.  But you wouldn't be Gokey without the stubborn streak that nearly brings your momma to her knees!  Ironic that the one of my babies who came early, without intervention on his own is the one who is so stubborn now.  I long for the pangs of labor and delivery now if they would calm the wild child beneath that sweet exterior! :)

If only you were always this peaceful!

Terrible twos have NOTHING on the 3rd year of Gokey!  We were indoctrinated into this realization very early on in this past year.  Last June on a night when your very pregnant momma was sleeping in the guest bed with a very sickly baby sister, you showed how strong your will was.  In the dead of night you trudged up the stairs from your basement bedroom for some unknown reason and Daddy met you at the top step.  As if you were the one unwillingly pulled from a sweet slumber at 2:30 a.m. you were GRUMPY.  Daddy matter of factly told you to go back to bed, to which your reply was a steadfast, "NO!"  So, he told you that you couldn't sleep with him, but he wasn't in the mood to fight you, and he retreated to the comfort of his bed leaving you standing in the entryway at the top of the stairs.  He drifted off to sleep since you just quietly stood there mere feet from our bedroom door, but he jerked awake to your shuffling feet as you changed positions and looked at the clock to see that it was then 3:30 a.m. meaning you had stood there for an entire hour strongly standing behind your decision to NOT go back down to bed.  At that point a compromise was reached and Daddy suggested you sleep on the couch to which you eagerly obliged. It's no secret you are a fan of buttons, especially Mommy's buttons.  You know exactly which days her patience is running thin and love to watch the ensuing circus when you shove her over the edge.  You have been my greatest teacher of patience, and though I am learning every day, I think I am better for least I am trying to see the silver lining in your steely armor of stubbornness.


On the flip are SUCH a sweet boy!  Despite your stubborn armor, you wear your very vulnerable heart on your sleeve.  You can muster up a collection of bottom-heavy tears to tumble from those endless brown eyes at the mere mention of disappointment or a stern look in your general direction.  Hugs of apology are strong and warm with sincerity and your teardrop laced eyelashes that are only like a mile long are enough to melt me into a puddle of mush.  And, I'm not the only one who has fallen under your spell.  You have a way of sucking people in.  You are adorable, funny, charming and debonaire in a way I have never seen such a small spirit display.  And, though you are so very sensitive your confidence in yourself when emotionally stable (when the threes haven't completely consumed you) is overwhelming!  You are rarely seen outside of the house without a fedora hat or one of your stylin' pairs of sunglasses and blue canvas shoes...and you wear them with authority, strutting your stuff.  One of your favorite personalities (yes, three year olds have multiple) developed in this past year is all-knowing.  You will proudly state, "I know everything," as an answer to...well, everything.  For example, "Gokey, why are you so cute." Your answer: "because I know everything!" Or you and X-man will begin arguing over whatever is so worth arguing about 47 times a day and you will eventually say, "I'm smarter than you," which for some reason isn't well received.  He will fall into the trap and say, "no you're not," and you will simply state, "I know everything."  At this point X-man will retort with a random math question (to which he doesn't even know the answer), such as, "what is 8 + 8?"  Your answer will come without hesitation..."7...see, I know everything!"

Such a doting big brother!

You must have gained all of this knowledge in your first year of preschool!  Yes, you are now two weeks from the end of this first year and how fun it has been. I think it has been all you hoped it would be.  Your teachers adore you (and your brother in the older class) and we were told after a few weeks into this year that they would be in PERFECT shape if they had classrooms full of Gokeys and X-men! :)  Apparently you are as charming within the realms of your classroom as you are within your family.  You also seem to be well loved among your classmates and are part of a rowdy trio of boys that often has to be put in their place, but we are told you listen well when this situation arises.  Being just a short 18 months behind your big brother, you are often competing for attention and time and you desperately want to be as cool and to know as much as he does (that's DO know everything), but one of your strengths you have been gifted with is a great name-keeper.  Once you meet someone you remember their names instantly and forever.  It took X-man a full year before he could name some of his classmates, but you were all over it by the end of your first week.  You also have a gift for music!  You love to sing and we all know your affinity for DANCE!  Your moves continue to amaze us and we're not sure how you inherited such awesomeness!

There's so much more, but you know how busy this mommy gig keeps would rather I sit and snuggle with you on the couch than record all of this nonsense anyway.  I love you, my sweet FOUR year old!  Happy Birthday...and slow down (sorry, I had to)!

Birthday treats for his class

First try on his NEW big boy bike!

Stella love!
Snowman love!