Friday, December 28, 2012

William Morris Projects - draft

Last year I ran across a blog called Pancakes and French Fries that was about creating an intentional home.  This sounded just like the thing I needed with 7 people in a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 1,300 square foot house.  The problem is that I save a lot of stuff.  I have good reason though.  We will always have a next child that will need it.  Well, this past year I started getting rid of things that were no longer going to be needed.  We finally have an end, a last child.  So, good friends from scouts received boxes and boxes of baby clothes, bouncer, swing, exersaucer, etc.  As we started emptying the house and garage in preparation of remodeling we went through many more boxes and really evaluated the need for 15 staplers, 3 hole punches, reams of colored paper, stacks of binders, and more.  Over the years and offices and job we had collected tons of stuff.  Stuff that no longer had a real need in our lives.  So we simplified our current life by getting rid of the clutter and improved the lives of those around us by donating to schools, churches and friends.  My very favorite first grade teacher received 14 bins of my teaching supplies/materials.

Now that we are living in our home, our forever home.  Its time to make those final decisions about stuff and also improve our house.  I am going to aim for one project a week; big or small.  Here is the list to keep me focused.



Kitchen
1. Install new pulls on kitchen cabinets (already have materials)
2. Get window coverings
3. Install bench under window
4. Install plate rack above window
5. Clean out junk drawer



Dining Room
1. Get a dining room table that seats 12
2. Get 12 matching chairs
3. Get a cabinet to display china
4. Hang curtains
5. Empty and reorganize curio cabinet



Living Room
1. Finish the fireplace
2. Hang handprints
3. Hang family pictures
4. Get a sofa table
5. Clean sculpture and bring it inside
6. Sort gaming drawers


Family Room
1. Sort books and send to preschool
2. Get window coverings
3. Clear off Cherry book shelves
4. Organize picture drawers
5. Sort and organize kids workbooks



Laundry Room
1. Sort through bin of receipts
2. Sort through bins of extra new toys
3. Organize extra food storage
4. Need foam rug for folding area
5. Clean out 3 drawers
6. Move construction stuff to garage

C's Room
1. Organize C's room
2. Paint C's room (in all honesty Papa will complete this)
3. Get new door
4. Fix closet door
5. Assemble book case
6. Get baskets for books



E's Room
1. Organize E's room
2. Paint E's room
3. Get window coverings
4. Put twin bed in room

Upstairs
1. Install new pulls on upstairs cabinets (already have materials)
2. Organize hubby's closet
3. Hang shoe storage
4. Hook for robe
5. TP storage solution needed
6. Move construction stuff to garage


Organizing
1. Make shirt quilt (already have the materials)
2. Make C quilt (already have the materials)
3. Make Gary quilt (already have the materials)
4. Complete blog book for 2010, 2011, 2012
5. Complete Shutterfly book for remodel

Boys' Room
1. Hang Escher prints
2. Get more baskets for books
3. Better small LEGO storage

Boys' Bathroom
1. Finish hanging towel rods in boys' bathroom (already have materials)
2. Install door stop

Office
1. Child proof the door

LA Room
1. Get a new full-size bed
2. Attach mirror to dresser
3. Sort through cabinets above the closet


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Advent Decorations

I really want to live Advent and teach the children that Christmas is about Christ's love, Jesus's birth and charitable giving to all.  Its hard to remember when the lights are so pretty, cookies are so yummy, and the sales are in full swing.  

I remind the children with lots of religion rich Christmas books, an Advent wreath on our table and many nativities.  Each night we eat at the table we talk about the advent wreath and do a simple prayer focusing on the gifts given to use by God and what we can do to help others.




But I can't remember the order of the Advent themes.  I confess, I am not a cradle Catholic.  I converted as a young adult because I felt like I was home.  As a result I was not raised in a Catholic home and the Catholic Traditions are not second nature to me.  I really have to remind myself (and the kids) to focus on Advent and God.

I searched high and low for something that would help me.  For a few years I would literally tape a piece of paper to the wall with the themes on it, but a few weeks into the season it would be torn and lost.  

I decided I needed to make something myself.  



I set off to Michael's to gather my supplies; purple and pink paint, paint brushes, thin wood crafting boards, stick on letters and some pretty ribbon.  I painted 3 of the boards purple and one pink.  Then I affixed the letters onto the board.




Affixing the boards to the ribbon was harder and since I wanted it done quickly (to be used) rather than done right, I simply stapled the wood to the ribbon.  *shrug*  It was quick and dirty.  But now we can use it rather than me having to go back to the store to find specialty glue or adhesive.


Then I scoured the internet.  Literally.  I spent hours searching different websites for prayers, themes, Bible readings, etc.  When I didn't find enough for each week I made up my own simple prayers that the children would be able to understand and reflect upon.  I typed up the prayers in 10 pt font and printed them out and glued them to the back.







The biggest pay off, besides a fully functional reminder to pray through Advent and having something beautiful at my finger tips to assist in that process, was the kids reaction.  "You made that, mom?!?!?
It looks store bought!"  I am glad I could show my kids that they can solve whatever problems are before them and that yes, their mother can be crafty without the assistance of a sewing machine or Shutterfly.  


Because I don't want you to spend hours searching the internet with your eyes bleeding I have posted my readings, Bible verses, and prayers below.  Go forth and thank God this Advent season.
Advent Themes

Week 1  - Hope (purple)

Dear God, Please help us to use the gifts you gave us to help all those around us.

"Jesus said to his disciples: 'Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake!...You do not know when the Master of the house is coming.'"Mark. 13:33 First Sunday of Advent

2 The people walking in darkness    have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness  a light has dawned.  Isaiah 9:2

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul!”  Psalm 25

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.    We are the clay, you are the potter;   we are all the work of your hand. 9 Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray,  for we are all your people. Isaiah 64:8-9

Teach us to love the unexpected, Lord, and to answer when you call.

Help us to be cheerful and generous to the poor as St. Nicholas was.

Lord, help us to see all people as our neighbors and to reach out in love.


O Jesus Christ,
Emmanuel, come and dwell with us.
Desire of all nations;
Gift to every generation,
Come, make your home with us.
All nations, everybody,
is waiting for you,
Indians and Eskimos
are waiting for you,
People in New York
are waiting for you.
People in Beijing
are waiting for you.
Jesus, come to us.


Week 2 - Peace

Father in heaven, set our hearts ablaze to follow in the steps of John the  Baptist. May we bring light and love to all we meet, that the darkness of  sin and fear may be overcome. In Christ's name we ask this.

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Lord, help us to be the light to those in need

O Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace,
come and save your people.
Joy of every heart,
Strength of those who are poor,
come quickly to help us.
Prince of Peace,
teach the lion and the little lamb,
teach the cat and the mouse,
the the hawk and the tiny bird,
teach everyone who doesn't get along
to live in peace.


When John the Baptizer made his appearance as a preacher in the desert of Judea, this was his then: Reform your lives. The reign of God is at hand!" Mt. 3:1 Second Sunday of Advent

Week 3 - Joy

O Jesus Christ,
Key of David,
come and set your people free.
Open the gates of heaven for us;
come, deliver us from evil.
King David was a mighty king
who built a city long ago.
He left a key
that Jesus found in the manger hay.
Key of David, Jesus Christ,
open heaven's gates for us.

Dear God, Your greatness is all around us.  Help me to open my eyes and see it and be thankful.

Dear God, please fill us with the wisdom and understanding of the Lord’s Joy.

As we draw near to you, Lord God, keep us aware of your presence in all we do. Come with power to enlighten us by your grace, that we may live in praise and peace all our days. We ask this through Christ our Lord


18 But be glad and rejoice forever    in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.  Isaiah 65:18

Blessed are the children who believe in God and do his good works.  


Week 4 - Love

O Jesus Christ, Holy Wisdom,
come and teach us your way;
Word of life, Word made flesh,
come, speak your truth.
Jesus, come and teach me,
how to sing and play,
how to learn new words;
tell me what to say.
Teach me how to be a child,
for you know the way.

The angel Gabriel said to Mary, "Do not fear, Mary, you shall conceive and bear a son and give him the name Jesus. Great will be his dignity and he will be called Son of the Most High..." Lk. 1 Fourth Sunday of Advent

Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35

Dear Lord, help us to love those around us, even when we are angry.  Your love heals all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Is she a Tween yet?

My daughter is a genius.  No, its true.  She has had a rough week; school, reports, soccer, science projects.  We have been letting her slide on chores and I have even "helped" with her homework.  ("helped": aka as staying up until midnight coloring a map and a picture which should not be worth as many points as the actual research and report itself, just saying. . . )  So, on Saturday after all the soccer games I decided to help her clean her room.  We had several instances during the week when she was nearly late because she couldn't find what she needed.  I discovered that she was in such a hurry that things were shoved into the incorrect drawers and she had lots of books, clothes and toys she had outgrown.  Therefore, on a late Saturday afternoon we tackled her room.

I started by shoving everything out of her closet onto the floor.  Then we sorted.  If found dresses 2 sizes too small, tap shoes from when she was 5 years old, 2 Minnie Mouse purses, the list goes on.  I set to work packing up too-small clothing when she burst into tears as I packed away her favorite blue dress (well, all the dresses are her favorite).  She had a break down.  It won't be her last.

"I hate this.  Why do I keep growing?  I love that dress and it doesn't fit anymore.  And why do all the stores make their clothes differently.  Some of my clothes are size 8 and others are size 12.  Why do they do this?!  I want to keep all my clothes.  I don't want to give them away.  Its not fair."

Be honest.  Raise your hand.  How many of you have felt exactly that way?  I have.  For my entire life.  She has discovered it at 9 years old.  I hugged her and I laughed, not at her mind you, in the I-know-exactly-how-you-feel-way.  And I told her so.  I told her she could go up to my room right now and find size 4's and size 10s in my closet and they both fit.  I told her I would buy her new clothes and that I wouldn't throw away her old clothes.  I would save them for her little sister.

She yelled at me for a long time.  Then she told me how her friends had been making fun of her for wearing dresses and skirts.  I let her yell at me.  Sometimes after a long hard day, week, month we need to just yell and cry.  I cleaned her room.  I fed her dinner and gave her a bath.  She was calm.  I hugged her again and told her I understood and I would always be there to listen to her.  We talked about how to deal with the rude girls at school.

I am simply amazed at how grown up she is on a daily basis.  She is dealing with a cranky teacher and crazy reports and homework.  On the soccer field she is regularly kicked or hit by the ball and is covered by mud.  It is up to her to tell the coach or the ref, not me, when she is done and when she can't do it anymore.  Its not my job.  I am not even allowed on the field to comfort her when she is hurt.  She has to wipe her tears and soldier on.

But at night, in the very wee hours of the morning, when I go into her room to make sure she is covered, she lays under her favorite blankets, curled in a ball, holding her doll.  Her doll.  No matter how grown-up or big she is on the field she is still a little girl, a child, deep down inside.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December isn't just about Santa


The Feast of St. Nicholas
December 6, 2012

"God our Father, we pray that through the intercession of St. Nicholas, you will protect our children. Keep them safe from harm and help them grow and become worthy in Your sight. Give them strength to keep their Faith in You; and keep alive their joy in your creation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

You have received wheat (cookies) and gold (candy) just as St. Nicholas delivered to the children In Myra in the 4th century.  

“One day Nicholas heard of a poor father who had three daughters. In order for his daughters to marry, he had to provide them with a dowry. He could not do this because of his poverty. Finally he decided to sell them into slavery and a life of sin. Three times, Nicholas came in the dark of night, and tossed a bag of gold through the windows of the house where the three girls lived. Because of Nicholas' generosity, the three girls were able to marry and were saved from a horrible sinful life.

The characteristic virtues of St. Nicholas were a deep and abiding Faith, a tender charity for all men, and a spirit of mortification and self denial which he is said to have had since childhood. It is especially these virtues which he wants to help us acquire so that we too, will come to love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves.

St. Nicholas was a holy Bishop and a reminder to all Catholics, and especially to children, that God desires to give the fruits and merits earned by the death of His Son on the Cross through His Church - and especially through the hands of His bishops - to all men. It was to His Apostles, the first bishops, that Jesus gave the command to go and teach all nations whatsoever I have commanded you; baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

We encourage you to keep the spirit of this feast in a special way, the evening meal should be a festive one. The table can be covered with a beautiful white table cloth to coincide with the white vestments worn today at Mass. Use the best China. The meal should be eaten by candlelight.

As we move into this Advent season remember to do the good deeds of Christ and all the saints; surprise a stranger with a plate of cookies, pay for the person behind you when at a store, help a family who is struggling by lending an ear or giving them refuge.  "let your light shine before men, so that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your heavenly Father." ~~ Jesus Christ

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Snowflake Cookies

"This is like Disneyland at home!" exclaimed Connor yesterday as we made our first batches of Snowflake cookies this Christmas season.

My grandmother made Snowflake cookies, then my mother would make them when my sister and I were little.  We broke more than one wooden spoon trying to stir food coloring into the thick paste-like mixture.

I can easily recite all the ingredients off the top of my head, but I won't give you the recipe unless you are like family to me.  I have never had another cookie quite like my grandmother's recipe and every time I give away cookies as gifts I receive compliments.

We started making Snowflake cookies as a family when Lainy Ann was 9 months old.  She helped by playing with measuring cups and eating mashed up banana.  Each year we have added more children.  Some years the helpers sat in a nearby bouncy cooing.  Other years they have helped with the measuring.  And each year we use more sprinkles than the year before since the toddler seems to think that one cookie needs an entire jar of sprinkles so that the cookie is hidden under a mound of green colored sugar.

My mom loves explaining the steps to the children and the process involved.  Every year we have to tell the kids that no we aren't making pumpkin cookies for Christmas - maybe next year we will make pumpkin cookies for Thanksgiving.

I love talking to my children about my grandmother, my sister and my mother as we cook, create memories, remember love and celebrate family.  Cookie baking is special to them, this recipe in particular.  We save our best cookies for our loved ones to show them how much they mean to us.

I am just so pleased that they love the cookie baking as much as I do.  I love that Connor thinks that cookie baking is like "Disneyland at home".

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent - in progress

I have loved Christmas for as long as I can remember; the pretty lights, the yummy food, baking, music and gifts (aka: shopping).


One of eight Nativities in our home this year

Now that I am a mom I take Christmas even more seriously.  It is an opportunity to teach my children about Jesus, charity, love, and the beliefs and acceptance of everyone.  We have about half a dozen Hanukah books, a few books of how Christmas is celebrated around the world, and nearly 20 books on Christmas.  Each year I have added more traditions to our Christmas celebration.

Advent:
Week 1 - Hope
Week 2 - Peace
Week 3 - Joy (pink)
Week 4 - Love


Today is December 1st and its time for our official count down to Christmas.

December 1st - get our LEGO Advent Calendars
- make Snowflake cookies (talk about family traditions)

Grandma Kerseg's Snowflake Cookies


Because I have difficulty sticking to a set schedule we will be spending the next 25 days doing these activities (depending on how much time we have on a given day):


  • Tele-Caroling
  • Read Matthew 1-2 to your family.
  • Christmas Cards for soldiers 
  • Make Christmas Cookies
  • Get Christmas Tree
  • Family Movie Night (4)
  • St. Nicholas Day (Set out shoes and surprise someone with a gift/note)
  • Bible Reading John 1
  • Look at Christmas Lights
  • Shop for stockings
  • Toys for Tots
  • Look at old Christmas Pictures
  • Read Christmas book
  • Make fudge
  • Caroling with scouts
  • Christmas Pageant at Preschool  
  • Write Letters to Santa
  • Make Christmas ornaments
  • Surprise Christmas (4)
  • Breakfast for dinner
  • Letter to Christ Child
  • Dinner by candlelight on the longest night of the year Dec 21st
  • Read Luke 1:26-38

All of our activities are stored in this box.


Other great ideas on how to keep Christ and family foremost in this holiday season are here.  

  • Bless your Christmas Tree
  • Visit a barn and reflect on where Baby Jesus was born
  • Light the Night - You’ll need electric candles or a string of white lights. Put lights in the front windows. A candle in a window was a symbol of Christianity, an outward sign of welcome to passersby that Christ resides in the house, as well as a welcome for the coming of Christ at Christmas.


To do activities:

Jesse Tree.
I would really like to incorporate this tradition into our family, but I need to find a good do-it-yourself kit.  The ones I have found are terribly expensive.

Unwrapping a book a day
This is a fun tradition where you wrap up all your Christmas books and place them under the tree.  Each night a child chooses a book to be read together as a family.  Its a nifty idea, but then it literally hides great books from the children for half the month.  I have books on St. Nicholas Day that should really be read at the beginning of the month.

Get more Advent themed decorations:
I have trouble remembering the focus and readings for the Advent season.  I would love a hanging decoration that can be reused that will remind me of the focus for each week.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Papa

I moved out shortly after my mom married Tom.  I didn't think much of their marriage.  It was fine.  I was happy my mom had someone, but I didn't really it had much to do with me.  Then as I started having children and Papa became a part of our lives I became really jealous of my younger sister who had had a relationship with him when she was still in high school.  I made a real effort to include him in the lives of our children, but was still working on my relationship with him.

Nine years later I can honestly say I don't know what I would do without him.   He loves and adores my kids as if they were his own.  That alone is enough reason to love him.  But he treats me like his own daughter.  He takes care of me and does the man stuff when my husband is gone.  When a heavy rain storm comes he will dig out my flooded front yard, do the heavy lifting, check my car and on and on.

The last 3 weeks were really hard with my husband gone.  And we are smack dab in the middle of our remodel project.  There are a lot of decisions to be made and my husband is largely unavailable due to travel and the time difference, but I have been able to rely on Papa to give me his advice and support me when the Tile guy doesn't agree with my tile choice.

Recently my car was making a ca-thunking noise.  Papa decided to check my oil before I took a long drive up a mountain to the next county over.  Sure enough, I was out of oil.  I would have burned up my engine for sure.  Then when the mechanic said I needed more work, Papa called 'his guy' to make sure I wasn't getting ripped off.

He gets it done.  He doesn't settle back and sit on his laurels.  He advises me on everything.  I know my life, and the lives of our children, are richer because of him.  I tell my mom quite often that if she divorces this loving and caring and thoughtful man that he is getting us in the divorce - or maybe she is getting an appointment with the neurologist.  I stand by that statement.  Papa is the best.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Endeavour

Vickie said, "So, are we going to drive down to LA tonight and find Endeavour?" is how it began.  I hemmed and hawed and wasn't quite sure if I wanted to take 5 kids into the heart of Los Angeles with no plan after bedtime.  But then I remembered the regret I felt for not taking the kids out of school to see the flyover.  I asked my children how important it was to them to see the Shuttle.  My nerdy-kids felt it was imperative.  I believe one of them exclaimed he would die if he didn't see it.

So we set off with only an intersection as a destination.  I told the children that I couldn't promise them any more than a drive-by.  We had a contingency plan of dropping Vickie and the big kids to walk up to Endeavour if I couldn't find a parking spot.

We spotted the Shuttle from the freeway.  As is my custom I squealed and pointed, but I did not crash the car.  At that moment if we saw nothing else I would have been happy.  Seeing Endeavour on the streets of Los Angeles next to a giant donut was surreal and perfect.  But we pursued an even closer view for the kids.

It took 30 minutes of getting stuck on dead ends, one way streets and wandering the streets until we were fortunate enough to find street parking.  We were only 2 blocks from Endeavour (at Randy's Donut Shop), but the police has shut that road - so we went the long 6 blocks-way.

It was just as you would expect.  A good bit of walking at 9:00 pm at night, far past everyone's bedtime.  And because my Southern California kids don't know what real cold is they put on hats, mittens and scarves to walk in the 58* weather.  We came upon the large crowd on La Cienega (north of Manchester) and joined the throngs.  I was in awe and all but forgot to make sure the little ones could see.

After quite a bit of "excuse me" and "pardon me" we made it into the deepest part of the crowd, just 3 people back from the front row.  After waiting around for a bit it was clear the front-rowers were not giving up their spot.  I realized that my small little kids would be able to cute their way to the front row one at a time.  I dug deep and laid my mommy fears aside.  I asked nice young men to let my son wiggle to the front unaccompanied where he would have an unobstructed view of the shuttle, the transporter and the whole street.  Then I held my breath until he came back.  It was a long 7 minutes.

He burst through the crowd with a huge smile on his face.  He was beaming.  He had an opportunity to talk to the volunteers from the California Science Center and hold a piece of heat shield in his hand.  Off went Lainy Ann on her singular adventure where she got to hold the heat shield as well.  Then William and Alexander wanted to go . . . more bravery was needed.  I squeezed to the front and personally spoke to 3 or 4 people who would allow my littlest brothers to walk through a crowd in Los Angeles in the middle of the night to see history.  I let the two boys go alone into the waves of people.  I asked others to keep an eye on the boys.  Then the other crowd members tapped on the front row of shoulders and pointed down to my boys.  I was proud of my fellow Angelenos.  They were taking care of my boys and encouraging a future scientist.

We waited around a bit, hoping the Shuttle would be towed over the 405 freeway (by a Toyota Tundra as part of an upcoming commercial).  But the kids were tired and we had a long walk back to the car.  It took 20 minutes to get on the freeway heading the correct direction.  The kids were asleep before we hit the on-ramp.  They were such troopers.  I can't wait to take my grandkids to see Endeavour.  I want to tell them about the late night I took their mother/father to see Endeavour in the streets on Mission 26.  I want to tell them about the Astronauts who lost their lives on Challenger in the pursuit of greatness.  I want to tell them how Endeavour was built in the Los Angeles area to replace Challenger.  I want my grandchildren to dream of a future when we live on Mars or the moon, simply because we can.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thank You.

Its tough having a bunch of littles when you have a big kid.  Lainy Ann has a late soccer practice once a week so the kids and I sit in the car for an hour watching movies.  Its less than fun, but we decided a long time ago that we would raise our 5 children as if they were from a smaller family.  After all, its not their fault that we decided to have a large family.

I bathed and jammied all the kids and let them choose any movie to sit and watch for one hour.  I figured it couldn't get much better than that.  I had my laptop in the front seat to watch hulu.  I was actually looking forward to the downtime for an hour.  Eleanor is still rear-facing since the new recommendation is 2 years old.  However, she has managed to crick her neck just right to see the tv while she is rear-facing.  It wasn't perfect, but it certainly was safer.

Thirty-minutes into the movie there is fussing and complaining.  So I loosened her car seat, just a tad. Well, the stinky little baby wiggled her way out of the car seat, stood in it and popped her head over my headrest.  "Hi!", she exclaimed.  I let her play a bit until she found the overhead radio controls and turned off the tv.  Twice.

I gave up.  She needed to be buckled.  She needed to be able to sit comfortably the rest of the season watching movies.  So,  I flipped her seat.  In the parking lot in the dark.  I managed to let her stay seated as I unhooked the LATCH.  Then I turned it forward facing.  She exclaimed, "Thank you!"  Which just shows that she has been needing to be 'big' for a long time.

I guess there is no other summary needed.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Drinking Wine

Kids play the silliest games.  I love that they use their imagination.  I really do.  But some of these games are truly ridiculous.

Their newest game is "toasting wine".  I have no idea where they got the idea to this game since we do not drink wine, nor do we toast.  But during dinner I will find the children toasting with their water cups.

Tears poured down my cheeks yesterday when I heard William call out "To Jacob and Paul".  Seriously.  Tears.  I don't know if they understand what exactly that means, but it sure did mean the world to me to hear them say it yesterday on the twins' 7 year anniversary.  It means that I truly have succeeded in ensuring that my five living children know and understand that they have two brother's in heaven.  That has been my only hope.  That our family does not forget Jacob and Paul.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lost

For the past 7 years we have lived in a small house.  Quite frankly, there have been some benefits to that.  For instance, I could clean the whole house in just an hour.  Also, if we lost something, well, it couldn't be far away.  It was pretty easy to eliminate the kitchen and bathroom as harboring the lost item.  That narrowed it down to just a few key spots.  We would find things in no time.

But now that the house is 3x the size it used to be, that means 3x the places an item can be hiding.  We have had more lost items than usual the last few weeks because of the amount of moving and storing we are doing every time a new work crew shows up.  In addition our darling youngest is mobile.  And takes things.  And hides them.  Fun Times.

For the last 2 days we have been looking for William's cleats.  We have one.  Can't find the second one.  We even *shocker* cleaned the boys room in pursuit of the right cleat.  We eliminated the kitchen and bathroom and felt it couldn't possibly be in the master bedroom.  Two days we looked.  We even had a back up plan of borrowing a pair.  Eventually, I sent Lainy Ann to the bedroom to put clean clothes away and she found the cleat on the floor . . . . next to another cleat that is a size smaller.

The light bulb came on.  The toddling princess and her obsession with shoes was to blame.  She had been wearing 2 mismatched cleats around the house.  What I thought was quite adorable turned into a real nightmare as we scrambled to find the shoes.  I imagine there will be more of these incidents between now and when the house is finished and properly babyproofed.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Eleanor, is still big

Today was a day like any other, except now it means I have 5 children.  Eleanor has unfortunately hit that stage where she won't stay in the stroller.  She wants to be out and about with the big kids because she thinks she too is big.  But I have to teach her about streets, staying nearby, strangers, following directions.  All that fun stuff that a toddler immediately says 'NO' to.  Today we were at a birthday party surrounded by 30 families that know our family.  I knew they would watch out for her if I lost track of her for a minute and her siblings were nearby as well.  We were far from the street so the dangers were limited.

I sat in a chair where I could see the majority of the park and decided to catch up with other moms.  Eleanor scooted off after the big first graders.  She grabbed a spray bottle and proceeded to walk around spraying plants and trees and other kids.  Another family took pity on her and helped her adjust the spray nozzle.  She toddled here and there following big kids.  Then she discovered the playground.

I was worried at this point because she hasn't quite gotten a firm understanding on not walking in front of swings, plus there are certain areas of the equipment that I can see clearly.  Even so I continued my conversation while watching Eleanor climb up stairs and go down slides.  I worried as she came to openings for the poles, but she was safe and continued on.  She went up and down the biggest slide 4 or 5 times all on her own without siblings to follow.

Eventually, as it usually happens, another mother brought Eleanor back to me.  She was concerned that she was going down the slide by herself.  I assured the mother that I was indeed watching and that Eleanor was capable of conquering the slide by herself.  I distracted Eleanor with a cupcake, another cupcake, some candy and juice - another sure sign that she is the 5th child.  Eleanor found some friends her age; 3 and 4 years old and played with them a bit.

We all wandered back towards the playground.  This time the other mother and I stood quite near the children.  We were pretty engrossed in our conversation when we realized the trio had disappeared into the bottom of the tallest slide and not slid back down.  I imagined they were attempting to climb up the slide and would fail and slide back down.  NOPE!  We discovered the trio at the top of the slide.  They had all shimmied up and out the top.  That is quite the feat for a 20 month old.  I am definitely putting this on her college applications.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The UPS Man Knew

Saturday at noon the UPS man drove up to our house and honked the horn.  A stampede of children ran out to the truck to meet him at the curb.  Connor retrieved his package and held it to his chest like a prized possession because it was.  The kids came thundering back in the house searching for scissors to open the box.  "My LEGOs, My LEGOs!", yelled Connor as he shook the box.


Connor received a box of LEGOs overnight as a reward for his second grade STAR test scores.  It has been quite the to-do at our house the last two days.  Connor received 100% in 6 out of 9 test areas only missing 4 questions on the entire 125 question test.

The child is smart.  Scary smart.  Seriously though, I am scared.

Now we are anxiously awaiting the mailman so Lainy Ann can get her scores.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Eleanor's Mommy-gene

Its been quite different watching Eleanor grow up versus Lainy Ann.  I was still on training wheels when Lainy Ann was growing up.  I was far more concerned with all those pesky milestones than the differences between girls and boys.  Plus we didn't have a lot of 'girly' stuff in the house.  Lainy Ann's toys were blocks, cars and books.  No pink stroller or car seat for her when she was an infant.

As such I have gone a little overboard with Eleanor; always dresses and bows, a pink car seat and there are now far more girl toys in the house - mostly Lainy Ann's cast-offs.  So its been quite entertaining watching Eleanor feed the dolls, push them in grocery carts and give them blankets.  Her mommy-gene has been ready and waiting.

She has been known to comfort Alexander when he is crying.  Its pretty cute.  She will walk over to him and hug him or pat him on the shoulder.  Just recently we were out to dinner and she tried feeding ice cream to her older cousin, Drew.  His ice cream was gone so it seemed natural to give him a bite.  Definitely a mommy in the making.

It drives Caskey crazy knowing that she is already a little woman - at less than 2 years old she is displaying all those mothering-qualities.  Never mind she is the youngest in the family.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Our Vision

Actually, to be fair, it was Caskey's vision.  He started talking several years ago about wanting to buy the house next door that was at the time being rented out.  I would tease him about wanting to play monopoly and get three properties in a row so he could put up a hotel.  Three years ago the owners *moved* back into the home to fix it up and get it ready to be sold.  They *lived* there so they could claim the sale of a primary residence and get around the taxes on the profit of the house.  It was a smart move since they had owned the property for upwards of 40 years.  They were the 2nd owners on the house.  They purchased as a newly married couple and when their family grew too large for the small 2 bedroom, 1 bath home, they rented it out and moved their family into a larger home.

We approached them and said we would like to purchase it from them if they were interested in doing some creative financing.  They said they would be willing and we waited.  They had to live in the home for two years before selling and they did just that.  We closed escrow in April of 2009.

Lainy Ann and Connor found us a tenant, literally.  The neighbor boy told the children that he had to move and find a new place to live and we put two-and-two together and realized they were renters looking for a new house to rent.  We offered them our house and it was rented within a month of closing escrow.

However, the ultimate vision has always been to combine the two houses into one large house.  Well, it was Caskey's vision.  I really was apprehensive about the whole plan for a myriad of reasons.  But here we are, three years later.  A dumpster has been delivered to my driveway where it will sit for 4 months, all of our belongings are in a storage unit in front of the house, Eleanor is sleeping in the play pen, and my washer and dryer are on the side porch that has been tarped in.  The whole house is vibrating as workers start to take down our garage wall.

Its quite an undertaking, but in 4-6 months we will have one big new house with 3 bathrooms and 6 bedrooms.  The house will be big enough to host birthday parties inside.  I will be able to hold den meetings.  We may even have a dining table that we all can sit at.

The Day we Went Vertical

This remodeling process has been an adventure in of itself.  Our builder could not have been better crafted for the job.  We needed to put two houses together under budget and quickly.  My poor boys had been sharing a room for many years, with the littlest one sleeping on a mattress on the floor.  At least once a day someone was in tears for not having a "big boy bed" or having to share "with the little boys".  It really tore at our heart.

So we soldiered ahead and did the remodel.  We knew that we were asking a lot so when decisions came up that we didn't care too much about our response was "which is cheaper?" or "which is easier?"  sometimes we answered "You pick.  I don't care."  At the last one our builder would always laugh.

However, there were a few things we really did care about, deeply.  For instance, Caskey's sculpture had to fit inside the house.  It had been lashed to a palm tree outside for 7 years.  It had survived weather and wind.  The squirrels had been plucking away the padding for their nests.  It was time to bring it inside.  One of the other things I cared about deeply was a fireplace.  The reason - Norman Rockwell.  Enough said.

We spent six weeks demoing the old house.  It was loud and dusty.  And while it was exciting that progress was being made every day, I was desperate to go vertical.  It was through this process that I realized how very lucky we were that Caskey goes to work late; about 9:30 am (he also gets home late, which isn't so great).  Each morning at 7 am the workers would arrive to start their work.  Most mornings I would pad out there in my slippers and a cup of hot tea in my hand and listen to the run down of the day.  I found it fascinating listening to the process. Plus it was nice to know if they would be shutting off my power.

The day we started to go vertical; after the footings had been poured, after we had been sleeping in 2 bedrooms for 3 weeks, after the kids had sword fought on the joists, we went out for our morning meeting.  We were going to meet our framer for the first time, E.  Our contractor, K, had great news for us.  Fantastic, really.  When the plans were drawn up there were no measurements for the floor height or ceiling height it just said "matching"  We expected to have a step or two from our existing living room (new dining room) into the new living room and then we would have the living room flush with the old 2804 living room (new family room).  We had previously had a 3 step down into our garage so we expected a step to be inevitable.

This was not to be the case!  When they peeled off the stucco of both homes they discovered the floors were at the same height.  How remarkable and wonderful.  The new completed home would truly feel like it was built this way, not hodgepodge together like  a lot of the other homes in this area (wich is one of the other things we were very concerned about).  However, the ceiling was also "match to existing" which meant a simple 8'1" ceiling exactly what we have now which is why the sculpture is outside.

So I turned to K with a laugh and said, "We have two choices here.  We either make the ceiling taller or you buy a sculpture, cheap".  K turned to the framer E and said, "How hard it is to change the ceiling height?"  E leaned over the plans (spread on a trash can) with a pencil in hand and crossed out "match existing" and wrote in 9'1".  He turned back to us and said, "Done."

And that's when I knew that we had made the right decision in choosing our builder.


Good Day - Bad Day

Its a good day on a construction site when they sweep, rake and otherwise clean up all the debris and everything looks clean and new.

Its a good day when you acquire the rocks you need for the fireplace and convince some children to clean them off for a bit.

Its a good day when windows start going in.

Its a bad day when you realize you will not be using rocks for the fireplace and you did all that work for nothing.

Its a bad day when in the process of cleaning up you discover you can't find your phone line and as a result your internet no longer works.

But if none of these things happened we wouldn't be making progress and this wouldn't be an adventure.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Adventures in Remodeling

When we first started exploring the idea of remodeling/adding onto our existing home I dismissed it.  I felt it would be selfish and a waste of money.  We could continue to deal with one bathroom for all of us.  The boys could squeeze in tighter.  Perhaps, it was just our materialistic society that demanded so much space for sports gear, homework station, book storage.  Families 50 years ago lived in these small houses; in fact, our own home is 60 years old.

We finally took the plunge and decided to join the two houses together.  I still felt a little selfish about it.  Like I wanted to strive for a magazine house that had nothing to do with raising children and making sure their life was better.  Sure, they would sleep better at night since they would have their own rooms.  It would be great to have more than one toilet . . . . for many reasons.  And it would be nice to be able to host large parties inside, instead of just during the summer months.  But I felt really selfish in moving forward with our decision.

I assumed that remodeling would be horrible.  The kids would be miserable.  They would be cranky.  But I figured it would all be worth it in the end.

But now that we have started remodeling, we have started on a whole new adventure.  Not just the 'wow, the workmen are in my living room while I am still in my jammies' adventure.  The kids are loving the remodel.  They are loving it when the cement truck comes to pour footings.  They are loving watching the workmen.  The men are even nice enough to allow my kids to help bend rebar once in a while.

The boys are LOVING the remodeling process.  I will find William and Alexander sitting on top a dirt pile about 3 feet from the workmen with huge toothy smiles on their face.  They just adore watching the work being done; rebar, nail gun, digging, screwing, sawing, all of it.  The boys like to take extra wood and sword fight on our temporary bridge.  We have talked about chimneys, siding, tile, new bedrooms, paint, etc.  The list goes on.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Remodeling is like Camping

Sure, you "real" campers won't believe me.  But I am not a real camper.  Camping is not my idea of fun. I will never understand why someone packs up their can't-live-without household items, puts them in a car and then lives outdoors for a few days.

This is my argument that remodeling is like camping:
We are all squished together in sleeping rooms, not in our normal beds.

There is dirt.  EVERYWHERE.  Everywhere.  I am so sick of sweeping, mopping and washing shoes.  Too much dirt.  And I hate dirt.

Everything is packed.  If a child needs a bathing suit or a beach towel I will have to pause, go through a few boxes, go into the garage and dig.  I have no idea where our non-everyday items are.

We are all limited to about 10 outfits, since everything is packed.  I have access to my bedroom, if I walk out the front door, down the sidewalk, down the driveway, and across the backyard.  As a result I only go into my room about once a week.  My most worn clothing is in one drawer in Lainy Ann's room and I do laundry, often.

There is a porta-potty in my front yard.

The kids spend all their free time playing in dirt, collecting rocks and sticks (and nails).

Food: I am no longer a gourmet.  With all the dirt, laundry and stuff everywhere its almost impossible to wrap my head around actually preparing meals.  We have been subsisting off of nuggets and hot dogs.  The kids are thrilled.

We are up with the sun . . . because the workers have arrived.  They are hammering and drilling and banging every morning at 7:00 am on the dot.  They actually arrive by 6:50 am, unload their trucks and start working by 7 am.  *yawn*

I have to be dressed all the time.  No more lounging around in jammies.  Several times I have been surprised to have the plywood door removed and to see the workers in my living room.  Fortunately I was always dresses, but I can no longer rely on the walls/doors to give me privacy since they are removable.


The worst part of remodeling

Every 2-3 days we have a whole new set of rules for the house.  Its like having a toddler.  The boys see some cool new trenches and they then start some sort of WWII game of jumping and shooting and hiding.  Sounds like innocent horseplay, right?  Well, the little ones can't quite make the jump and they end up falling, or they start causing the trenches to cave in.  Right before my eyes the hard work that has taken 4 full days is falling apart.  So a new rule is made "no jumping" or "no dirt".

Today the stairs to the upper floor were completed, the subfloor was nailed down as well.  Its all very exciting and we have promised the children we can go upstairs together with adults in a few minutes.  But they run up there anyway. Yup, on the 15 foot high platform in the sky with no railing.  All thre boys.  The three year old and the one who trips over his own feet.  When they fall they will land on power tools, rebar, rocks, etc.

Today's rule is "no stairs".  Who knows what tomorrow's new rule is.

Other new rules:

No playing in the Porta Potty
No throwing rocks
No sword fighting with the workers 2x4s
No poking with the nails
You must wear shoes outside
Stay out of the dirt
Stay off the joists
Stay out of the trenches
Stay off the wood pile

The list goes on and on . . . .


Friday, April 20, 2012

Cub Scouts

I was in Girl Scouts as a girl, well, Brownies actually, for just one year.  I had fun, but I mostly remember wearing brown and doing a lot of crafts.  When we had our first son and my husband declared he would be a Cub Scout I had no idea what that entailed.  But since we had only been married a few years I dutifully said, "yes, dear".

When first grade rolled around it was time to find a pack.  I really was quite unsure how to do that.  I asked around church and the soccer fields.  I discovered that you usually join the pack affiliated with your school, but not all the schools in our area have packs assigned to them.  We were entirely unsure which pack to join, so ultimately we joined the pack where we had the most friends.  Our reasoning was that we would be spending the next 9 years with this pack (since we have 3 sons) and knowing someone who can help with carpool and enjoy all of the upcoming camping trips will make the whole experience worthwhile.

I was pretty naive our first year of scouts.  I was blindly following along and showing up for every event that our pack hosted.  We have a very large and very active pack, so it seemed every month we were hiking, picking up trash, etc.

We are on the tail-end of my eldest son's Wolf year and in the fall our second son will become a Tiger.  I have learned quite a bit about scouting.  Enough that next year I will be the Tiger Leader for our pack.

1. Search for a pack at the end of the Kindergarten year.  A lot of packs have activities over the summer. You don't want to miss out on all those fun activities, new friends and new patches.

2. Buy your Tiger book over the summer and get cranking.  I have found that we fulfill a lot of the scouting requirements just in our everyday lives.  But by familiarizing myself with the book over the summer I can better guide our activities to ensure all the requirements are met.

3.  Familiarize yourself with the available belt loops.  I am proud to say my son has 22 belt loops after 2 years of scouting.  Most of the belt loops are easily attained with a little planning.  The majority of his belt loops were earned with activities we normally would have done as a family.  The scouting program simply gives us a focus.

4.  Volunteer.  Your child will get out of scouting only what you put into it.  There are many positions with varying amounts of commitment required.  You can be the snack parent, in charge of finances, Awards, and a Den leader (which hopefully isn't as scary as it sounds). If a long time commitment is too burdensome you can volunteer to organize one of the monthly events or a single-game at one of the pack meetings.

To find a pack near you go to:  https://beascout.scouting.org/BeAScoutMap.aspx




AYSO Sign Ups

We have been playing soccer with AYSO Region 88 for a few years now.  If you count up all the kids and separate seasons I think it numbers about a dozen seasons.  Our first time at sign ups was a nightmare.  But I think it was mostly because I was unprepared.  I mean, who knew you would need a birth certificate for a 4 year old to play soccer.  Well I know now.  This year I was ready.  I was organized.  I pre-registered in February and I showed up at 9 am at Rosemont Junior High to sign up all three kids for soccer.  I had forms, a checkbook and a birth certificate (you only need one the first year they play).

I was pleasantly surprised to see the Girls U19 soccer team set up on the grass outside of Rosemont with not only a bake sale, but soccer balls and small goals.  They encouraged me to leave the children outside with them while I went in *alone* to sign up.  Um,  Yes Please!

I stood in a very short line, quietly, with no one tugging on me or fighting.  I quickly signed up the three children, wrote my check and left, all within 10 minutes.  The children were sad to leave their little soccer clinic so I plied them with cookies.  It was the easiest sign up I have ever done.

If you still haven't signed up for soccer go to Rosemont Junior High this Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm.   Be sure to go to AYSO88.org before and print all the necessary forms.  Hopefully the U19 girls will be there with cookies and soccer balls.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Privacy for our Children

Since Caskey works for Google we have been very strict about the children using the internet age-appropriately.  None of my children have Google+ or Facebook pages because they are not legally allowed to do so.  Quite frankly we have steered clear of social media for the children for a number of reasons; cyber bullying being one of them.

Its not that I want my children to be computer-illiterate, quite the opposite.  We encourage the children to learn touch typing, email family members, and use complicated digital devices like GoogleTV and Kindles.  They manage just fine.  But releasing them out into the big bad internet world where I can't "overhear" their conversations.

I don't just worry about the affect social media will have on them now, but in the future.  Potential employers have implemented policies on Googling candidates as part of the interview process.  Any information they put on the internet will represent them and follow them, the internet has a long and unforgiving memory.  I don't want their poorly thought out escapades of the teen years to come back and haunt them as they apply for college or their first job.

Its hard to believe that my children already have a Facebook presence, despite the fact that they don't have an account or even access to Facebook.  I have told anecdotes about Student of the Month, shared pictures of being dressed up for holidays.  In addition other family members and friends post stories of my children and pictures.  We are flying by the seat of our pants in this new age and a new protocol needs to be created for sharing images and stories of ones children.   When is it okay to post pictures of a play date with a friend?  Do I need to ask the friend's mother first?  Do we ask the child?  This is a whole new territory and simply uploading pictures and stories isn't a one time event, the internet remembers.  What kind of affect will this have on the child's future?

Perhaps I need to take down my blog when the children reach the teenage years, maybe before.  I don't think I want potential babysitters stumbling upon stories of childish antics.  Keeping my blog active to connect with far away friends and family is necessary, but so is respecting my child's internet privacy.  Finding the middle ground is quite the challenge.

Fundraisers

I hate fundraisers.  I said it.  I don't feel badly at all.  I acknowledge the need for fundraising.  I contribute in fundraisers and I know that fundraising efforts done (by our school specifically) have improved my children's education.  I am grateful for the opportunities it provides and I look forward to more.

But we are doing it wrong.  We as a society are doing it wrong.  Fundraising is less about raising money and more about the event.  We are having walks and runs in the name of awareness and cure.  We get totes, t-shirts and keychains to tell the world "I made a difference".  But the reality is only a portion of the profit goes to the charity in question; much more of the money is spent on paying a corporation to organize the walk, pay for the t-shirts and materials.

As a Girl Scout mom I have discovered the same thing when selling Girl Scout Cookies.  A very small portion actually goes back to my daughter's troop.  I wonder why we are spending so many hours selling cookies to get back less than $1 per box sold.

I personally have opted to donate directly to the school.  I no longer participate in Dine Out nights where just 20% of my total bill goes to the school.  Instead I donate at the beginning of the school year when I know the school will keep 100% of the money.

The most recent incarnation of these fundraisers are carnivals.  Not only are they outrageously expensive, but they are simply unattainable to our family.  The price is $20 for an unlimited wrist band per person.  I have 4 children that will want to play games, plus food.  We will top out at $100 for 3 hours of fun.  That's quite a chunk of change.  I know that $100 of that money will not be kept for the organization, because I know how many trinkets and lollipops we end up with at the end of the day.  I wonder what the actual profit is?

I would really like for organizations to just ask for money; no more trinkets, incentives, or selling.  Think of how much more money the organization would retain and how much less I would have to spend.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Watch Out

I have gotten back on the exercise bandwagon recently and Mindy has been kind enough to work out with me, kind of like a personal trainer.  She really pushes me.  Recently, after a particularly rough work out, I was complaining in the car, "Ugh, Mindy really kicked my ass.".

Alexander piped up from the back seat.  "I hate Mindy".  I was quite surprised as they are very close friends of ours and we spend quite a bit of time with their family.  I asked him why.  "Because she kicked your ass, Mommy"

You better watch out, Mindy.  Apparently I have back-up!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Done Nursing. Forever.

I didn't really have a plan for nursing Eleanor.  She is my baby, so there was no urgency to weaning.  There was no swollen belly in the spot she liked to sit to nurse.  So we just kept nursing.  She was down to nights only, occasionally before nap time.  It was obviously no longer for nutrition and only for comfort.  But she is my last baby.  So we nursed.

But I wanted to live too.  I wanted to go away with my husband for the weekend.  I wanted to go away with my mother too.  So I did.  And I figured if nursing survived the separation - Great, if not - then it was okay.  Nursing did survive our first separation in December when Caskey and I were gone for two nights.  I borrowed an electric pump (which was a new experience) and kept up my supply and kept me comfortable.  As soon as I saw her she asked to nurse.  She was 13 months old.

My second overnight away was at 16 months.  My mother and I spent 2 evenings in Anaheim at the Religious Education Congress.  She had a rough few nights.  I pumped to help relieve the pressure.  I got home and she didn't ask to nurse.  I didn't push the issue since I wasn't really sure I wanted to nurse any more.  We were already 3 days into weaning, so I kept it up.  The next day I had to pump again to make myself more comfortable.  She still didn't ask.  I was pretty sad about it - the last sign of her babyhood - but it was good we were moving on to more grown up things.

Then on Thursday morning she squished her finger in a drawer.  Big tears rolled down her cheeks and she asked to nurse!  Um, its a little too late for it now, I thought.  My supply was dwindling and I wasn't going to start it up after 5 days of weaning.  I distracted her.  She forgot about it.

But the real nail in the cross was on Friday when I discovered Eleanor had flushed my lanolin cream.  Apparently, I don't need it anymore if she is done nursing.

Its okay.  She is on to bigger and better things . . . . like the top of the kitchen table.

Our Home

I cried the day we closed escrow on our current home.  I feel badly mentioning it but its the truth.  We rushed into purchasing our home because, quite frankly, we didn't have a choice.  We were living in a hotel for a bit, then an overpriced fully furnished apartment.  We were flushing money down the drain every month.  The market was hot.  Very hot.  We had put in bids on several houses.  We got into a bidding war on a house  that was out of our price range.  We had offered the asking price and they wrote us a letter asking how much more we were willing to spend.  What?!  None, thank you.



There were exactly 3 houses on the market in our price range and location range when we purchased this one.  The only reason we got it is because we knew the previous owners from church; we were not the high bid.  I still cried.  I thought it was an ugly small house.  I thought it was small, too close to a major street and our neighbor was a wash.  I worried about street noise, wash bugs and having one bathroom without a bathtub.  The kitchen was dated and the flooring was peeling.  And I was 7 months pregnant with a 15 month old.  Caskey consoled me by saying it was a temporary home and we could move when the prices came down.  





Within a month of purchasing the house we started making it feel more like home.  We replaced every single doorknob in the house (germ-free) so they were uniform.  The entire interior of the house was repainted loud wonderful colors that I love (Thanks to Papa Tom).  I had a sunshine yellow bathroom and kitchen.  My loving husband installed a white picket fence and tore down the ugly chain link fence.  Over the years we continued to improve the house; new sprinklers and sod, removing a few messy fruit trees to expand our yard, removing a dog run, a new a/c system, a closet in the 2nd bedroom.  Eventually we did bigger projects like a new kitchen and flooring.





Although I started to love our home for what it was I still hated it for what it wasn't.  It wasn't very big.  It didn't have a bathtub or even a second toilet.  It didn't have a garage.  But I think the real problem was what we need.  We are a family of 7, there is no getting around that number.  We are currently squeezed into 1,300 sqare feet of space, no garage (that is important because all of our storage is in the master bedroom).  There are 3 bedrooms with 3 boys in one room.  Did I mention there is only one toilet?  Oh, and we have a cat too, at least he gets his own toilet.



So we have been perpetually house shopping.  Forever.    Thanks to online websites and my extensive must-have list we haven't had to actually hire a realtor.  In the last seven years there have only been 3 houses that had potential.  Did I mention we are picky?  With our large family size and our desire to stay in the area it limits our housing potential to about 100 houses in a 80,000 square foot area.





If I ever do find the perfect house and move I think I will cry.  I have been pregnant in this house with 6 of our children.  We have had baptisms, first birthdays first steps, and First Communion in this house.  We have had water fights and wrestling matches.  We have had stitches and broken arms.  Three of our children have learned to ride a bike in the street in front of our house.  I will mourn our house; our ugly, too small, never-wanted-it house.