Sunday, September 30, 2012

294 Days Later...

We're Home!!

This morning I sat at the island in the kitchen drinking my coffee and looking through the Younkers brochure for water glasses.  Nolan was napping and the boys were in their rooms playing when I realized, this moment, right here right now, is perfect.  I look forward to spending many more mornings sitting with my coffee cup at that end spot.

The move this weekend has gone as well as could be expected.  Moving is a lot of work.  Moving with young children is a lot, a LOT of work.  Collin's parents helped us out yesterday watching the boys and washing dishes and putting things away bit by bit.  Our plan of attack with this move has changed almost daily and I think our ability to be flexible (which is really unlike me) has been key.

Although the rental company is coming tomorrow to pick up all of our furniture, no one is moving into the duplex right away, so we are able to move slower than normal.  We've been bringing boxes and totes by the car load and trying to unpack each one before going back for more.  It's working out okay. Although what's left there now I would file under "miscellaneous" which is always the hardest part; the stuff you don't really know what to do with.  The stuff you wouldn't miss if you didn't bring it with, but throwing it away feels so wasteful. 

The house is still a work in progress, there are a few totes I don't really want to tackle and those are sitting in the entry way.  The hallway to the garage is a pile of empty boxes that need to be burned or broken down for recycling.  Nolan's room is kind of a disaster.  The time we get the most done is when he is napping and since he is in there napping, it hasn't been unpacked or set up yet. But it's coming along.  Dishes and pots and pans have been washed and put away.  You're able to at least kind of see the kitchen counter and, the big one, the pantry is set up and cleaned out.  The pantry had become out dump zone over the past few months.  I dreaded setting that up.  But yesterday morning something came over me and the first thing I needed to do was set up the coffee bar.

I'm so glad I did because each time I looked at it throughout the day it made me so happy.  After the kids went to bed last night Collin and I scrubbed the remainder of the room down and unloaded all of our food.  It feels so great when a room is "done".

We hope to steadily make progress over the course of this week and finish up moving and cleaning the duplex next weekend.  The boys are still calling this the "job site" and Collin and I are still calling it "the house" but I know in the days and weeks to come this house will slowly become Home.

Friday, September 28, 2012

One More Day

I picked Keaton up from preschool this morning, looked in the back of the car and asked, Do you know what happens tomorrow, Buddy?

No. What?  He asked me.

We're moving home!

He started kicking his car seat and waving his arms.  Yay!!  I'm so happy!  He exclaimed. And then he started asking me about the garage and the deck and I explained that, no, those things aren't done yet and there is still some work to do inside, but we can do those once we are there. And then he smiled and told me how happy he was again.

I think this is how we all feel.  Just. so. happy.  We had hoped to move in last weekend and our original plan was not to move in until everything was complete; down to the dishes being washed and put away and the house having been scrubbed clean.  While things aren't working out quite that way, and this weekend is going to be a hectic one in which we need to box everything we have here up and move it over, we're still happy because it's time.

I figure it's going to take us the month of October to really get settled, but there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.  Not only with this house but with our personal inventory too.  We're not done, but we're closer than we thought.  We've got the months of October and November to finalize things and then, once December 10th comes our time is up and we are done.  I don't want to wish away time but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to all of this being behind us. I have grand plans for how I'm going to spend my evenings once this is done and it includes a lot of wine, time on my Kindle, and soaking in the bath tub.

The other thing I want to do is finally tell you all the story here.  I've started but once it is all written, I'll tell you again.  We've learned so much in this year and while there have been some very dark and lonely days I'm confident we are going to emerge a stronger couple, a tighter family. In the end there are hidden blessings to having it all stripped away.

For now though, I have a one-track mind, because tomorrow, we're going home!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Project Move Home - an update

** Before I start, I have to send a big Thank you to my sister-in-law, Kira, and my friend, Tanya, who have watched the boys for us the past two weekends so we could work on house stuff.  Last Saturday Kira watched the two big boys and had four kids under four for the entire day while Collin, Nolan, and I went to a nursery auction where we replaced much of the landscaping we lost and did a little shopping at Bed Bath and Beyond. This past Saturday, Tanya came over to the house to watch the kids (the night before her own son's 3rd birthday party) so Collin and I could work.  Thank you both, so, so, so much!!**

We are on Day 5 of Project Move Home and well, I'm trying to focus on what is done rather than where I thought I'd be at this point.  I grossly underestimated the amount of time the cleaning would take.  Today I worked on one room.  One room! The master bathroom.  Because there is so much tile it literally took me all day to scrub down.  And to be completely honest, it could probably use another scrubbing but I just don't have the time or energy right now.

Last Thursday and Friday I got the two big boys' rooms cleaned and set up.  With the exception of a few minor things (hang Keaton's tractor banner thingy and clean Hutton's closet) and a few things that will happen after we move (make a shelf and toy storage for Keaton, toy storage and hang some sports memorabilia for Hutt) their rooms are pretty much done.  And they are loving them. As soon as we walk in the door they run to their rooms; Hutt grabs his new bug-catching puzzle and carries it into Keaton's room to play.  They pour out the Lego's and build houses with the Lincoln Logs. They are at home. And each night it's a huge task to get them to leave.

Friday I also cleaned the boys' bathroom and on Saturday I set that room up.  We also set up our bedroom, but that basically consisted of making our bed.  We don't have much else in our room.  I haven't ordered the fabric for our curtains yet but seeing the bed made makes me antsy to do that - the curtains are what will tie our room all together. 

Today I scrubbed down the master bathroom and tomorrow I will set that up.  I also need to re-clean floors - I cleaned them before the furniture came but they are a mess again. My mom is supposed to be coming up tomorrow and I'm hoping while I work on finalizing the back half of the house she can work on cleaning the kitchen cabinets.  Our official move in date has been pushed back to next Saturday, the 29th.  We still don't have occupancy so we're praying this all comes together okay.  I have two more days off of work, wish us luck!

Here's a sneak peak at the rooms I've set up so far.  I'll give a full tour on move-in day.  Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend.

Keaton's bedroom

Hutton's bedroom

Boys' bathroom

Master bedroom

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dear Nolan: 4 Months

Dear Nolan,

I’m looking at the calendar and realizing, yup, you are officially four and a half months old today. I knew I was behind on writing this four month letter to you, but I guess I didn’t realize I was that late. I had purposely put it off in hopes of making you a 4-month well visit and getting some official stats to record here but when I finally made the call we weren’t able to make you an appointment until early October, when you will be five months old. But, as luck would have it, or, well, maybe I shouldn’t say luck, you, Hutton and I all ended up at the doctor’s office last week with a viral infection and we got an unofficial weight on you after all. 14 lbs., that’s what you weighed in at at just over four months.

This has been a really great month for you in that you have become a really happy, happy little boy. Strangers are always asking us, is he always this happy? Or commenting, wow, he is smiley! And you are. I mean, there are times when you are fussy; you are not fond of your car seat and when you’ve been sitting without attention for too long, you let us know. But typically once we take you out or pick you up you stop fussing and start cooing and giggling and laughing. Oh, your giggles, they are the absolute best. Just tonight I had you lying on the bed and was tickling you and you were shouting in laughter and I realized you have a way of melting all of our stress away. And Baby Boy, I thank you for that.

This month you have also started interacting with your toys. You really love your activity mat and will lay on it for quite awhile before becoming bored. You’ve found yourself in the mirror and like to chat and talk with the baby, but your favorite accessory is the little green frog that hangs just over your tummy. You like to bat at it and listen has it clangs and knocks into other toys. You also love your giraffe that is attached to your car seat. You look at it and swing your fists at it when you waiting patiently to be loaded in the car, and just today I noticed that you were hanging on tight to the rings around his neck. Your brothers also love your giraffe and will argue over which side it is on in the car. I don’t think you really care as long as he is there, looking at you.

Your big first for this month is that you started rolling over. I feel really guilty admitting that I had to ask Busha if you were rolling yet. Here’s the deal buddy, you have two big brothers who are, how should I put this? A little rough. So I’m going to be honest, you don’t get a ton of floor time at home. If I’m busy making dinner or folding laundry I can’t trust leaving you on the ground without being right next to you. So in those cases you are either in your bouncer or in your bassinet. But Busha makes sure you get plenty of floor and tummy time (she’s good like that, that Busha of yours.) And the other day when I saw you roll for the first time I asked her to confirm for me and she said yes, you are rolling from front to back and back to front. You roll right off of her activity mat.

At four months you are a drooling monster who loves to talk and talk and talk, and then you talk some more. You’ll let just about anyone hold you but, if I’m being honest, Mommy is your favorite (and I’m completely fine with that, that never needs to change!) You like bath time and sit pretty well on our laps for dinner. You get very fussy around 7:30 or 8:00 each night and remind us that it is bed time. You suck on your hands, especially when you are hungry, and typically take 4 ounce bottles. You are now wearing 3-6 months clothes and need to be moved into size 2 diapers. As difficult as this year has been you have been our shining star, our bit of happy. Each day I look at you and thank God he sent you to us, I don’t know what this family would do without you.

I love you Little One,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

House Update: Crunch Time

It's crunch time at the house.  I've taken this coming Thursday/Friday and next Monday/Tuesday off of work to get rooms cleaned/stuff moved/the house set up.  And while I'm so excited! And, the time is here! We're about to move home! The stress in this place is palpable. There is still a lot that needs to come together in these next few days for it all to work out. Electricians need to come back, the drywaller needs to put up a fire wall in the garage, HVAC people need to finalize things and all of this needs to be done so the inspector can come in and grant us occupancy.

Meanwhile, our first furniture deliveries came last Friday.  The boys' bedroom furniture came yesterday and our mattresses will be here today.  We're moving at breakneck speed and just praying things go accordingly.

Collin and I are trying hard not to kill each other.  For the most part we're doing okay, until one of us has a moment of frustration or stress over load, sadness (oh, yes, it is still very much there) or depression.  He asked me yesterday, am I just depressed?  I don't know, I told him, I'm struggling through my own feelings of guilt after seeing our house loaded with brand new furniture.  I just want to be happy and excited and instead I'm having these conflicting feelings.  Seeing everything, all at once, brand new and shiny just feels....I don't even know what the feeling is I'm trying to describe. It's a very odd feeling that has me tugging in all different directions. We've wondered if we shouldn't have replaced everything, if we should have waited and looked longer for some things.  But back in March, when we made these purchases we were just so overwhelmed.  We're still overwhelmed.  I remember sitting down for lunch with Collin and saying - this is how we are tackling this, once we have  room repurchased we aren't thinking about it anymore.  There is too much to purchase, too many other items on our to-do list, we need to cross this off and move forward.  And we did that.  But since then we've become really moved by finding old pieces at auctions, pieces that have more history and, well, I don't know, it feels odd now having all this new stuff.  The thing I keep falling back on is a conversation I had with my aunt this summer.  I was explaining this and said, we just didn't feel like we had time to look around and she looked me in the eyes and said, you didn't have time.  And I'm trying to remember that.  These purchases had to be made within one year or we couldn't get reimbursed for them.  Auctions are really fun and awesome, but they aren't a guaranty.  Even when you find something you like, we're finding, does not mean you will come home with it.  So I'm trying to reconcile my feelings.  Trying to let go of the negative feelings of guilt and worry and sadness and embrace this new house and most of all, try to make it a happy time for the boys.

As I was looking at pictures last night I realized most of the updates have occurred to the outside of the house. The siding is up on the north, south, and part of the west side of the house.  Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of that.  The stone has been added to the face of my office wall - I believe they are coming back to add just a bit more around the front door entry.

The digger came last Wednesday to dig the footings for the new garage wall and third stall.

The face of the garage will be pushed out about 6 feet as we built into the existing garage to add a laundry room and coat (bed) room (as Keaton calls it.) Since we are also adding a third stall because we could never fit the lawn mower, etc into the garage, the garage doors will now be on the front, rather than on the side.

As you can imagine, seeing the digger made one little boy very happy.

That same day my mom and I spent the afternoon out at the house cleaning the master bedroom, office, and living/dining room getting it ready for the furniture delivery.  We also hung curtains in the boys' room.  We had to take Keaton and Nolan's down so she could hem them at home, but here is a sneak peek at Hutton's room.

The two big things  that have occurred inside the house have been the flooring in the dining room/hallways/living room and the counter tops and back splash in the kitchen.  These pictures were taken last week, before furniture, so later this week I can show you the rooms set up.

Dining room floor

Panning into the living room - you can see we also put the door on the wood storage room.  Oh, and a peek at one of Collin's auction finds - the clock on the mantle. I'm really excited to show you all of our auction finds.

Living room floor
In the kitchen the counter tops have been put on.  We went with black.  I was a little nervous at first, but I'm really glad we did it.  We also decided on a tin back splash.  We debated between tin and tile and in the end chose tin.

That's it for now.  My goal this Thursday/Friday is to get the bedrooms and bathrooms cleaned and set up.  If all goes according to plan, I hope to have more pictures then!

Friday, September 7, 2012

First day of Preschool

Wednesday was Keaton's first day of preschool.

We've been talking with him about school and how he will stay there by himself for a couple of hours a few days a week.  He has been pretty excited about it but when he was acting up over breakfast and refusing to eat we realized he was also a bit nervous.

Let's talk about it again, he said as he sat next to Collin on the couch.  And so they talked again and then he grabbed his backpack and seemed ready to go.

We headed outside to get a couple of obligatory first day of school pictures before he and I loaded into the car.  He smiled nicely for me for a couple of shots and then Hutty decided he needed in on the action and, like all photo shoots around these parts, things started going downhill from there.  Collin and I had to laugh; this is life with these boys.

Collin stayed home with the littles while Keaton and I headed off to school.  He talked all the way there, "It's just you and me in the car!  No Daddy, no Hutton, no Nolan.  Cause we're going to school.  And I will listen to my teacher at school. Hutty's getting big too; he'll go to school next year." And then we got out of the car and he saw some classmates and he started up again, "He's going to school too.  Look it, Mom, he has a backpack...."

When we got into his room he found his hook to hang up his backpack

and after putting his name tag in the bucket and giving me a hug goodbye, he slowly left my side to go play with the toy tools.

I stood on the outskirts of the room for awhile and every so often he'd look up with a bit of panic on his face but once he realized I was still there he went back to playing.  I slowly made my way to the other end of the room to exit and then stood outside the door for a bit.  I was fully expecting to hear crying once he looked up again and realized I had left.

After four or five minutes or so I knew I had to leave.  He was fine.  I was fi....oh, I was kind of a mess.  I got very choked up walking back to the car.  This is the first time we've ever left him with someone other than friends and family.  He's growing up so fast and yeah, I sat in the car for a bit to catch my breath. 

I ran some errands and came home to the little boys so Collin could go to work.  It was very strange in our house without him there.  Hutty missed him immensely. Teaton at?  He asked when I walked in the house.  At school, we told him.  Go check, he said as he opened the garage door to make sure Keaton wasn't out there.  He came back nodding his head, Teaton at school.

When I told Hutt it was time to go pick up Keaton he was so excited, as was I.  We walked in the classroom and his teacher says, Keaton, someone is here for you!  And Hutty walks right up to him, Hutton here!  It might have been the cutest thing ever.

When we got in the car he started jabbering nonstop, telling us about his day, his craft project, playing in the sandbox and meeting new friends. 

He didn't cry.  None of the kids did.  He made new friends. He loved school.  He can't wait to go back. 

This Mama is happy, but also a little tearful; my baby is becoming a Big Boy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

County Fair and a Play Date

In the past we've spent the majority of our Labor Day weekends up at the cabin, but between needing to work at the house and with Keaton starting school we felt like we needed to stay home this year. So instead, we started some new traditions.  Our Off to School Party was on Sunday; on Saturday we took the kids to the county fair.

 Those of you who I grew up with, or who are close to Earlville now, know that the bar for county fairs has been set really high by The Sandwich Fair.  I have yet to find a fair up here that even begins to compete with our beloved Sandwich Fair.  This one, held in Rosholt, was definitely better than any of the others we've been to and yet, it holds nothing against The Sandwich Fair.  Ahhhh...can you tell I'm getting nostalgic?

We did see some animals though; the boys' favorite was (surprisingly, to me) the geese.  While mine was, of course, the sheep.  Let's not talk about the time I called the sheep, goats.  (I do not foresee Collin letting me live that one down any time soon.)

And then we headed back to the rides, my phone takes the crappiest pictures ever, but you can get the idea, and the games.  We let them play one pick-a-duck game that cost $5 but Winner Ever Time!! 

Before we left we indulged in a corn dog.  There is nothing like a fair corn dog.  And Collin and I both desperately wanted an elephant ear, but we had to pass.  Not because we are trying to lose weight (although we are) but because we couldn't figure out how to carry all of our children PLUS an elephant ear.  That's a sad sad day when you leave a fair without an elephant ear.

On Labor Day our friend, Amanda, graciously offered to bring her boys over to play while I worked on inventorying.  Amanda is one of the craftiest people I know and the boys loved the art projects and play time with her two little boys.  And Mama felt so good having gotten a very good start on another list.  Its been about 5 months since I've touched any of this and just sitting down and working felt so good.  Thank you so much, Amanda, for allowing me to get some stuff done!!

And then, just like that, our long weekend was over and it was back to the grind.  But, we have an exciting week this week with Keaton starting school today so while we were all a bit sad to see it end, I think we were also all a bit excited for what is to come....

First Day of School pictures up tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Off to School Party

There are a few blogs I've labeled as "inspiration" in my Reader.  I look at them on nearly a daily basis for their creativity, peaceful parenting tactics, and joy of life; one of those blogs is Nie Nie Dialogues.  Stephanie is an inspiration in so many ways, one of which is her enthusiasm for mothering. Each year she throws her children a Back to School dinner and when I was reading about this year's celebration I knew I wanted to do this for the boys.

I thought about keeping it a surprise for Keaton but in the end decided to tell him.  I'm so glad we did.  He was so excited and for days kept talking about his "Off to School Party." 

It felt only fitting to decorate using green and blue, Keaton's and his cousin J's, favorite colors. Both of whom will be heading to preschool for this first time this fall.

Crowns were adorned...

...and stars were hung. 

(These are the same stars Stephanie has made each year and can be found here.  They can be engraved with anything and are really, really beautiful.)

As we sat down for lunch we said a prayer for our big school boy:

Loving God, bless Keaton on his first day of school.  He is your beloved child, with whom you are well pleased.  Keep him safe in Your loving arms, no matter where he is.  Comfort also Mommy and Busha, who will miss him while he is at school.  Bless Daddy, Hutton, Nolan, and Papa, also, and bring us all together at the end of the day. Amen.
And then we celebrated with lunch and horns and suckers.

And just before the day was done Keaton got a few small Off to School gifts.

Including his very own art bucket from Busha, just like he has at her house.

Tomorrow is his official first day and while he seems nothing but excited I'm a jumble of emotions. A new chapter, it is beginning.