Friday, January 31, 2014


Things have been quiet around here this month.  It's not that I don't want to be writing here it's just...when I've been away for an extended period of time I never know what I should come back and say. Should I tell you about the things we've been doing or the crafts we've been making?  Should I finally catch up on those birthday party posts I've been meaning to write?  Should I fill you in on our plans/hopes/dreams for the future?  Where do you start?  So today I'm just going to write. It'll be random, surely, but it will be something. And when you don't know where to start, start with the ice breaker we all hold dear....the weather.  Yes, let's start with the weather...

  • See that picture up there?  I took that at the beginning of December, after our first snow fall. (Yay!  Everyone loves the first snow fall!!) Today that wheel looks like this: 

  • Pardon the change in angle, I took that second picture with a telephoto lens from the comfort of my kitchen, ain't no way I'm walking my ass out in that shit. Actually, that's a lie, I did try to walk my ass out in that shit a couple of weekends ago, Keaton and I together, we only made it half way through the yard before we got our asses stuck in that shit.  (Okay, you can uncover your ears more potty language). In all truthfulness though, we did try to go on a hike on the nature trails a couple of weekends ago, with snowshoes I might add, and we still got stuck.  I'm not exactly sure how much snow we have on the ground, 12? 18? inches. Two feet?  All I know is it was up past my knee and we've gotten another six inches or so since then.  
  • Somewhat related to the snow, okay probably a lot related to the snow, both the UPS man and the FedEx guy have gotten stuck in our driveway this winter.  That shouldn't make me laugh, but it kind of does. It also makes me happy that we opted for a four-wheel drive vehicle.  Did I tell you we finally got a new car?  No?  We went back and fourth on the mini-van for awhile but both Collin and I were getting that gut feeling that it wasn't a good idea.  We ended up with a new (to us) SUV (a Toyota Sequoia) about mid-November.  Just in time for winter to hit; just in time for me to see what I was in store for with the pick-ups and drop-offs.  We've lived here for 8 years and I'm going to be honest, I had no idea how bad the country roads were here in the winter.  Granted this has been an especially tough winter but still, there have been a number of days already that I would not have gotten out of my driveway without the four wheel drive. The other bonus with a new car is, this is going to blow your minds, there is HEAT in the BACK.  What?  All cars have this?  Oh?  Really?  Our last vehicle was such a disaster that I had to crank the heat in the front so my children in the back did not get frost bite. It was awesome.  I do not miss that car one. single. bit.
  • My house is a disaster.  Like, straight-up, a disaster.  This isn't really new news.  My problem is that I've been falling asleep putting the boys to bed at night (ask Tanya about that, I've missed three calls from her, all at or around 8 pm because I've been sleeping!) and then I get absolutely no house work done.  I had to stir my coffee with a baby spoon this morning.
  • We ran out of propane again this week.  AGAIN!  If you ever want to know the most efficient way to run out of gas on the absolute coldest days of the years, ask us!  We are professional run-out-of-propaners.  That's not really a good thing.  Our last fill up, which was on Jan 6th, lasted us 22 days.  Did you hear about the propane shortage? $5.39/gallon baby.  I opted for 250 gallons and with the same-day charges we paid a wee $1,500.  (Excuse me while I vomit, again).  So we're taking some drastic measures....rigging our fireplace to work (don't ask), electric heaters, closing rooms, and praying that we can make it a bit (okay, a lot!) longer on this tank.
  • My plans for the weekend include: finishing the last Christmas gifts (thought you were behind?), taxes, making some progress on cleaning my office and the storage room in the basement, working on Valentine's.  When I asked the boys this morning what they wanted to do this weekend the answers were: stay home, play on the Kindle, do art - can we Mom? 
Wishing you all a fun, productive, and warm weekend and hoping I'll see you around here a bit more in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

at the train station & around the house

On Saturday we took the boys, with Papa & Busha, to a model train show (or, train station, as Hutt has been calling it). Between the ages of about 18 months to two or two and a half years trains were Keaton's thing.  He loved them.  Hutton was too young at the time to get into them and because Keaton is the big brother the other boys interests have tended to follow along with whatever Keaton is interested in. The love for trains in this house was replaced by tractors and now hunting. But does any little boys'(or girls?) interest in trains really fade completely?  I think probably not. 

The boys were all eyes and ears. We each took a child to carry so they could get a closer look and over and over we heard - Mom! here it comes!

But as fun as it was to see the trains come chugging towards us, it was just as fun to check out all the scenes. Small little towns, bridges, people and farms, wild animals...the table we liked the best was set up to replicate areas around our home, even a depiction of  a train wreck that occurred years and years ago.

The boys saw me taking all of these pictures and decided they wanted to get in on the fun too, so I handed over my phone. And oh, children, you are so adorable....and so very, very blurry.

I tried getting one shot of the big boys together; that turned out about as well as they always do.

The Law of Multiple Children: only one shall cooperate at a time.

That night Keaton convinced me to let him use my phone again, Mom, Mom, I need to take pictures. I was flipping through my phone yesterday and behold, our (blurry) life according to Keaton:


Drawing of a tree stand and a deer

Maia's dupa (I have about a dozen of these)


Collin's deer (a/k/a Hunting Target)

Nolan and his suitcase

Bird on our winter nature table

Snowman on Hutton's shirt (there was a lot of excitement about this one)


Hutton's suitcase

Rudolf's girlfriend

Keaton's ceiling fan

Santa pillow case

Tractor wall decal and bonus sippy cup


Christmas cards (one of MANY pictures of our Christmas cards)

And that was just a select few (your welcome!)

My mom is up here now watching the boys since they didn't have school yesterday or today and not having to fight bedtimes and wake-ups has been glorious!

Hope you all had a great weekend.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Heaven's Newest Angel

"There is no footprint too small to leave an imprint on this world."
~ Author Unknown

It is with great sadness that I come here tonight to ask for your thoughts and prayers for a family that is very dear to me.  

On Sunday, the six month old son of my friend and childhood neighbor, Lindsay, passed away unexpectedly. I never got to meet Blake in person, I only got to see his chubby little cheeks and infectious smile through Facebook pictures - but with a smile like that it's hard not to hear those giggles and coos coming right through the computer screen.

Dear sweet baby Blake, while you walk with Jesus now may you know that in your short time here you made a huge imprint on this earthly world.

To Lindsay and girls,
Gary and Mo,
Tony and Jen,
Lauren and Greg,

May you know that we are holding you all up in our thoughts and prayers.  May the Lord grant you the strength to get through this very difficult time, give you solace knowing that your precious baby boy is sitting beside him now, and provide you with comfort with the promise that one day you will all be reunited again, for eternity. 

So much love to you all.

Please keep Lindsay and her girls, Blake, and the entire Ayala family in your thoughts and prayers.

"So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." - John 16:22

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

And now I'm 34

Yesterday was my birthday; because of the frigid temperatures sweeping through most (all?) of the country the local schools announced on Friday that they would be closed on Monday, which was perfect. No school for them meant no work for me.  

It makes me a bit nervous taking days off this early in the year.  With Collin's new job we don't have the flexibility we used to have, but it didn't make me nervous enough to not want to scream Friday night: Yay! Three day weekeeeeend! And it didn't make me nervous enough on Sunday night to sit on the couch watching football and think, awesome, I don't have to set an alarm tomorrow!  No, it didn't make me nervous enough to not look forward to it and enjoy every second of it.

I would say it was a completely normal day but really there was nothing normal about it.  We had no schedule, we had no classes to get to or a computer to log on.  We didn't have to get up early or eat lunch at a certain time.  The boys and I had all day to do whatever we wanted.  I like these random days off even more than weekends.  Weekends come with expectations, expectations that never seem to be met - things to get done that don't get done during the week; errands to run; places to be. These middle-of-the-week days off don't seem to hold any expectations; they are days I actually enjoy. 

We learned about the temperature, we read a book, we made bird feeders (Nolan not only ate the peanut butter but also the seeds!), we played dinosaurs, and we snuggled under blankets and watched far too much tv. 

With that, of course, came laundry and cooking. Cleaning the kitchen table 8 million times and sweeping a pound of bird seed off our kitchen floor (seriously, it probably would have been easier to just invite the birds in). But even the routine every day chores were more enjoyable because there were no expectations of how much laundry I had to get through or how clean the kitchen got (answer: not very.)

There was nothing overly special about the day, with Keaton feeling under the weather in the afternoon we never got around to making those cupcakes. There was no fancy dinner or getting dressed up or spending a night on the town.

It was just a day at home, with my boys and it was absolutely perfect.

(Except for the part where we ran out of propane and we had to have an emergency fill up.  Perfect, except for that.  OMG - who does that?  Who runs out of gas when it is -50 degrees?)

(Thank you all for the calls and texts and messages, you made my day even brighter! xoxo)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013: A year in review

I'm not quite sure why I want to recount 2013, for the most part I'd say it was a pretty crappy year but going back and reading through old posts can also be somewhat enlightening. I should have done this before the end of the year, to really close the door on her, but to be honest with you we haven't yet gotten ourselves organized post Christmas and Keaton's Birthday Party so I kind of feel like we're still operating a year back. Today our schedules resume, me at work and the boys to school, so I'm hoping this weekend will give us a chance to pull ourselves together and hit the reset button. In the meantime, let's review.....

January 2013: It was a rough start to the year with ear infections, fevers and colds for everyone.  I turned 33 and had a difficult birthday, one that started with burnt pancakes (that little episode, now that it is over, is one we laugh about often) but ended with lobster.  I wish I could say this was a representation of our entire year, but sadly it really wasn't. By the end of the month I found myself in a funk

February 2013: The month started with a Girls Winter Amish Trip; a much needed day in the country, which always has a positive affect on my mood. We celebrated Valentine's Day with homemade Deer Valentines and our traditional strawberry waffles (breakfast) and seafood Alfredo (dinner). The remainder of the month we stuck close to home and got out to enjoy the snow.

March 2013: Nolan turned 10 months in March and this age remains vivid in my mind, it was the month he became One of Them. We celebrated St. Patrick's Day and although we didn't get that sneaky leprechaun this year, we found his tracks. We ended the month with a delightful Easter celebration. 

April 2013: Darn it, it looks like the month started with another funk.  I knew I battled anxiety and depression a lot in 2013 but I guess it was even more than I remembered.  Although not mentioned yet, we also battled a lot of sickness in the beginning months of 2013. We tried "spring cleaning our lives" but I'd say we still have a lot of work to do to really get everything in order.

May 2013: Ugh.  May might have been the most difficult month of the year....ehhh, no, that was probably November, but May gave it a run for its money.  I was really struggling in May, mostly because of work.  I was working, almost literally, non-stop.  Evenings, weekends, staying up ALL NIGHT just to hit deadlines. This month was the catalyst that is driving all of our plans for our (near and far) future. But the month did not come without highlights: Nolan turned one (his birthday post is YET to be written!) and we celebrated with a Cinco de Mayo themed party. Collin turned 33. We got to spend an entire weekend just Mama and Baby. And, the weather was getting nicer. 

June 2013: Ahhh, June.  We were so happy to see you.  The majority of my work deadlines were ending and Keaton was officially done with Preschool. Summer Break! This was our first year with a child in a school setting and the break was much needed by all of us.  However, it also intensified my May longings to be home with my children.  The boys started swimming lessons and Keaton also started a T-ball class through the YMCA. Our schedules were a different kind of busy and while that was good, it took us all quite a while to adjust to the change.  Hutton turned three (his birthday post is also yet to be written) and we celebrated with a Farm themed party. Other highlights included the weekend mud bath ,  Breakfast on the Farm, and the return of our Saturday morning trips to the Farmer's Market.

July 2013: The Fourth of July holiday took us north for our one and only summer trip to the cabin where we watched the parade, saw fireworks, did some fishing and hung out with family. We spent the hot summer days with the sprinklers and slip-n-slide and took a trip with the boys' cousins to the splash pad. In the early evenings, when the sun was going down, we took many, many, many walks on our Nature Trails.

August 2013: August was quite possibly the highlight of the entire year.  On the 13th Collin and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately we all got pretty sick with summer colds but that was completely overshadowed by our family vacation to Mackinac City.  A week away, on the lake, with friends was exactly what each and every one of us needed.  It was our most favorite family vacation to date.  If I could I'd pack up, call Em and Drew, and do it all over again right. this. second.  

September 2013: I didn't talk a lot about what was going on in our family in September but it was a month of highs and lows and a whole lot of change. The boys headed back to school at the beginning of the month; Keaton in 4-K and Hutton in Preschool. Keaton had no problems at all and even rode the bus for the very first time without any tears.  Hutton had a more difficult start to the school year. At the same time Collin made the very difficult decision to accept a new job with a local company. It meant working full-time for someone else and leaving the family business. Just typing these words brings tears to my eyes. When we made the decision to move up here years and years ago it was specifically so Collin could go to work with his Dad.  We both hope that someday he will be able to return to the business full time and for now he will work as much as he can in his off hours to help. A couple of days after he accepted this position we received, quite out of the blue, an offer on a real estate investment we made several years ago -one that has caused us much heartache. We felt on top of the world.  But then the start-date to Collin's job got pushed back and pushed back again and the closing on the spec was delayed.  A month of highs and lows.....

October 2013: October was a really tough month.  We did our typical October things: celebrating Halloween with a a trip to the pumpkin patch, pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating. We took a weekend trip to the cabin and, unfortunately, endured our first round of sickness for the season. But what October will be remembered mostly for was the closing of the spec. It was a huge, huge, HUGE blessing. I try hard every single day to remember this.  Our financial bleeding has finally, Praise the Lord Jesus!, stopped.  But it's easy to live in denial when you're in the middle of a crisis.  The sale of the spec meant we had to face the reality of where it left us.  That was not as easy, at least for me.  This was the beginning of a very severe downward spiral for me, emotionally speaking. 

November 2013: In November I posted only three times, one of them being this. I spent the entire month struggling with depression. We had Thanksgiving at our house and I tried to put on a happy face but at one point retired to my room, alone, to cry.  But despite this very difficult month the things that stick out to me are the phone calls from friends, the emails and messages, the people who told me listen, I'm here for you - you can talk, you can cry, you can vent, whatever, I'll listen.  And those that said, I'm not exactly sure what's going on, but I'm thinking about you, praying for you. These people lifted me up and I will be forever grateful. 

December 2013: One of the things Collin kept saying to me as we were struggling through October and November is: at least this will all be over for the holidays.  While I was at the bottom of the hole it was hard to see this but, of course, he was right.  The fog began to lift a bit at the beginning of the month and we enjoyed our St. Nicholas celebration, the first snow, and seeing Santa.  We made it through the second anniversary of the fire  and by the time Christmas rolled around things all around felt a million times better.  We celebrated Christmas Eve at Papa & Busha's with Auntie Cas and Uncle Ben and had a quiet Christmas Day at home.  We searched high and low for Chinese take-out and settled for gas station frozen pizza for our Christmas dinner - we're still a bit bummed about the lack of open Chinese restaurants, but that's okay. The following Saturday we had a small Hunting birthday party for Keaton and that night we headed north to the cabin for Christmas with Mimi and Papa Grizz, Uncle Buck, Auntie Kira, and J & H. We spent an afternoon walking across the frozen lake, Collin and I watched the Packers/Bears game at a bar with my Dad (sorry Dad, that's was probably rough, huh?) and ate cake for breakfast on Monday as Keaton turned five. 

We didn't officially ring in the New Year - Collin and I went to bed with the boys at 9 pm that night, but maybe that's better, no hurrah, let's just close the door on her quietly.  Unfortunately it wasn't a year of burnt pancakes to lobsters; it was more a year of burnt pancakes and then some more burnt pancakes, but we ended with frozen pizza and that is definitely a step in the right direction. Although our troubles of this year are still somewhat lingering, I'm already able to identify the blessings in them. We have a vision for our future today that we did not have a year ago and while I still envision a long road to get there, as a family we are ready to put one foot in front of the other and move forward.

Goodbye 2013.

Hellllloooooo, 2014!