Friday, November 29, 2013

House Hunting is Hard!

While preparing for our move from St. George, I was grateful to separate the stress of selling one house from the complexities of purchasing a second.  To tell the truth, I had these idyllic dreams of Jason and I house hunting together, savoring the personal Parade of Homes while my parents enjoyed quiet evenings with our children.  (Okay, okay, I never really thought the kids would be quiet, but since Jason and I would be on a house hunting date, I figured that was their problem.)

In some ways, I was right.  My parents have been great to watch the munchkins whenever they can.  But as for the rest, house hunting has proven far more overwhelming and stressful than peaceful and idyllic.  There are just too many choices!!!

Moving to St. George, our plan was quite concrete.  We knew where Jason would be working and where we wanted the girls to go to school.  We had one weekend to look, and those were our choices.  We did our best to choose from those limited options--and it worked out splendidly.  The more I look at homes, the more grateful I feel for our old home.  It may not have had a ton of square footage, but it used the available space extremely efficiently.  We loved the yard, we loved the privacy, we loved the location.  (Oh, and can I just say that we loved the weather?)

This time around, the decision is much more complex with a multitude of factors creating what feels like an infinitesimal number of possibilities.  To give you an idea, here are a few of the homes we are considering:

We're attracted to the older historic homes in Omaha, closer to the downtown area.  This home is lovely because it overlooks a park, giving some incredible views while you wash your dishes, not to mention a very cool Master bedroom.  It doesn't have a garage right now, but there is room to build one, plus you could finish both the basement and the attic space.  The downside?  It's a bit pricey for us.  After purchasing the home, it would probably be a while before we'd have enough money to actually do any of these projects.  That could translate into many more icy windshields.
1114 S 33rd St, Omaha, NE 68105

1114 S 33rd St, Omaha, NE 68105


Believe it or not, this home in Red Oak is also an option:
But while we might be able to afford to purchase the home, could we afford to heat it? While space is nice, I tend to appreciate cozy as well.

On the other end of the spectrum, we are also considering this Red Oak home.

Not a whole lot to look at, but the price is definitely right.  If we lived here, we could save a lot--I'm thinking vacations in Spain.

Or, as long we're living in the country, we could purchase this 11 acre homestead about eight miles outside of Red Oak.  (I'm not sure, but it may be off a dirt road...) 

2335 240th St, Stanton, IA 51573
There's a couple of barns and a few silos--but not many neighbors.  I'm definitely thinking chickens.

And last but not least, speaking of silos, there's Jason's dream.  He would love to find a piece of Iowa prairie and design our own home, consisting of a couple rusty silos, some interstitial space, and solar panels.  I stole this image from his computer--just to give a very rough initial idea.
The bedrooms would be stacked in the tall skinny silo (with lots of windows punctuating the space and a spiral staircase wrapping around.)  The kitchen would be in between with most of the living spaces in the other silo.

So as you can see, we have lots of possibilities--just very few answers.  What would you choose?

November Silliness

So I hope everyone had an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving--we certainly did.

Yesterday I meant to post a few fun photos as a way of saying thank you and we love you to all who are far away.  Sorry it never happened--turkey can do that to you.  Good news is that we're just as grateful for each of you today.
Annika likes splashing so much that everyone fights over who gets to bathe with her.  I guess Talia-Monster won this time.

Hey, Talia cleans up pretty well!

I was pretty happy with this fancy schmancy hairdo for the Primary Program (round 2 with a new congregation.)  The braid looks complicated, but was really very fast and easy.

We had to make sure she was well-groomed to compensate for the huge bruise, compliments of wrestling with her sister by the fireplace.

We decided Annika's hair was long enough for rollers.

Annika decided that eating breakfast wears her out.

The van decided to quit working--again.  But Eli decided the SpongeBob tow truck was super cool.

Carrying the shoes upstairs seems fairly straightforward, but Talia manages to put a fashionable twist on the most mundane tasks.

Last but not least, Annika decided that she likes the new dishwasher almost as much as we do.

Barring a we're-all-out-of-diapers-emergency, you won't find me in any stores today.  Good luck to all of you courageous Black Friday shoppers, though.  You're braver than I...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Whoopee, I'm Famous!

A virtual friend of mine, Lizzie the ultra-amazing, Boston marathon-qualifying, Vibram FiveFinger-rocking Mother Runner recently started a spotlight series on her blog.  And guess what?  Yours truly is today's special feature.  You can read all about it here in case you're interested, but should go check out even if you're not.  Why?  Because running is cool, motherhood matters, and magic happens when you put them together.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Tale of Two Birthdays

Eli's Train Tale
Two months ago our little guy Eli turned four.  Eli's changed a lot over the past year, definitely becoming more independent and developing a spunk of his own.  His laugh is still abundant and infectious.  However, he's not quite as laid back and easy going, as his sisters can testify.  It used to be that he would go along with anything they said; now he rather expects that they will go along with anything he says.  (When they don't, the whole house knows.)  Even so, at least once a day he'll come up, give me a great big snuggle, and say "Mommy, I love you!"  My heart always melts.

Eli loves planes.  Eli loves cranes.  But most of all, Eli loves trains.  This train cake was definitely a winner for his birthday celebration.

Wish the cake tasted half as good as it looked...  At least the kids liked it.

Going along with the train theme, we took Eli and the girls to see "Starlight Express" at Tuacahn the next evening.  The kids absolutely adored the show and still talk about it, randomly breaking into song now and then.
Here's Brooklyn, explaining the Starlight Express ticket surprise to Eli.
As much as Eli adores trains, he loves legos just as much.  Jason thanks everyone who is helping add to his collection.  (Of course, there is a bit of ambiguity in the referent "his"--are we talking about Jason or Eli?)

The last surprise was a big one--a balance bike from NomiAnn and Papa Kay.

At first they weren't sure if he would like it....
...but he does.

What else to say about our Eli?  He's a fantastic puzzler and Go Fish champion.  He's extremely social and misses his old friends, particularly Chloe.  Every time we hop in the car, he hopes that we will "find his new preschool," wherever that may be.  For one who was slow to start talking, he now chats incessantly, rarely bothering to check whether someone is listening.  He prays in a squeaky voice two octaves higher than usual (all the better to ascend to heaven?) and loves breakfast cereal as much as I do.  He is observant, inquisitive, sensitive to criticism, and attaches stickers to his forehead during the church Primary program.  (We discovered the latter this afternoon.)

This move has been confusing for our little guy.  A month ago he asked me to show him Africa on the globe and wondered if we could drive there.  It wasn't until he told someone the next day that we were moving to Alaska that I finally figured out how in both cases he was referring to Nebraska.  No matter the location, he appreciates having Jason back home.  Recently he exclaimed out of the blue: Daddy doesn't have to go to New York any more.  So now we don't have to miss him anymore!!!

What else?  Even though Eli is no longer youngest, he still gets pretty babied.  Using his small size to his advantage, he weasels his way into having others do things that he really could/should do himself--be it getting dressed or finding shoes.  He's in a terrible tantrum phase at the moment, although these ferocious storms are generally short-lived.  On the positive side, Eli can usually be reasoned with--eventually.  I recently had to smother my chuckles when Eli tried to talk his way out of shots at his recent visit with the pediatrician.  After circling round and round with queries of "Why do I have to?" and "But I don't like shots!", he finally resigned and told the nurse "Fine" with just enough attitude that you knew he had older sisters.
Yes Eli, it is fine.  Quite fine to have you part of our family.  Happy Belated Birthday.  We love you! 

Scrumptiously Seven:
I may be two months late with Eli's birthday wishes, but I'm a mere two days behind in sharing Talia Lily's seventh birthday.  And what a scrumptious birthday it was!  After the culinary wreck of Eli's train cake, I was determined that Talia's cake would at least taste good.  This "Carrot Cake Supreme" was divinely decadent, although the creators were right in insisting that it should be reserved for special occasions or murder by sugar.  Carrot cake is drizzled with buttermilk glaze...

...and then smothered in cream cheese frosting. 
Talia's three-tiered dream cake was a lot of work, but totally worth it for our princess.

Six has been a fantastic year for Talia.  I once worried about how our energetic powerhouse was ever going to survive the confines of school, but she's seems to channel that energy well.  She makes friends easily, although she rarely becomes attached to any one person. When I asked her who she would miss most from St. George, she mentioned Gabe because he races her at recess.  Just like her Daddy, Talia is a gifted runner.  She also loves biking, hiking, Daisy Girl Scouts, and most recently...
...reading!  Over the past few months Talia's gained fluency in reading both in English and in Spanish.  It's thrilling to have the entire world of print suddenly open wide.  For her birthday, Talia got her first chapter books (and her first scriptures.)  The next morning we found her looking like this:

Too cute!

Equally beloved, of course, was the adorable purse from Aunt Callie and Uncle Adam.

If there's anything our fashionista loves more than a cute bag, it's a cute bag full of bills.  I guess now we know why her eyes are green!

Perhaps Talia's most endearing quality is her kind heart.  Despite the typical sibling squabbles, she's incredibly generous and often thinks of people besides herself.  I love this sign she drew: "Happy Birthday Talia!  And others."  Even on her much anticipated special day, she wished others happiness as well.

Talia's kind heart earned her a special surprise--a fuzzy guest that accompanied us on her birthday outing.  Meet Hadi the Hedgehog.  Hadi is sent home to spend the weekend with first graders who have been particularly responsible, respectful, and courteous.

So where did Talia take Hadi Hedgehog?  Why, to the Omaha Mavericks hockey game--the perfect place to cheer and celebrate seven lovely years with our Tally Wally Doodle.

Happy birthday, Reddi Wip!  We adore your spicy sweet sugary spunk.

(By the way, lest ye think Talia's perfect, Papa Kay insists that she still needs to concentrate more...on growing her teeth!) 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Halloween Follow Up

I was cleaning out pictures and found a few more Halloween photos, taken at a lovely get-together hosted by our friend Karen.  She knew that we would be missing Halloween in St. George so she invited some fun folks for a costume party punctuated by a piƱata. Wish we were all still neighbors!

One-eyed baby monster.

Mommy minion looks delighted to take a break from packing.

This minion looks like he's ready for dinner.

What happened to your teeth, Talia minion?  And how can you see with those goggles?
Talia, Kajun, and Thad Johson--all focused on their food.

So Annika got a little blocked by the minion pipe cleaners in this photo.  How's Jason doing as Gru?

And just for the heck of it, here's one last cute picture from Grandma Susie's.
And last but not least, Karen Scott as the super hero, Isis.

Thanks for the great party, Karen. We miss you!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Despicabley Lovely Halloween

When I was a child (the same age as Brooklyn, in fact), we moved Halloween weekend. We arrived in Chicago on Halloween, eager to trick-or-treat that evening. Well, unbeknownst to my parents, the community had celebrated on the 30th. As you can imagine, Callie and I were pretty traumatized when we realized that our sugar fest was cancelled.

And so, in planning our move from St. George, we originally hoped to leave after Halloween so that the kids could celebrate one last time with their friends. Our buyers, however, really wanted to move in by November 1st so we came up with plan B--Halloween in Hyde Park with Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles.

I confess that I had pretty high expectations for Halloween. With the worst of the move finally behind us, I was ready to party. For weeks I'd been constantly putting the kids aside so that I could pack. Now I was eager to give them my undivided attention and PLAY! Carved pumpkins, creepy treats, glowing drinks--I could envision it all.

Not surprisingly, things didn't quite work out according to plan. Talia was sick, so sick that we spent the morning with the pediatrician. Eli, also under the weather, ended up taking a four hour nap and missed most of the celebrations. Oh, and let's not forget the alternator going out on the mini-van while coming home from trick-or-treating at Lee's.

A broken down car? Quite a trick, don't you think. Actually, the more we came to think about it, the more we considered it a treat. Given the 1300 mile journey, it's pretty remarkable that the car broke down just a mile from Jason's house where he and his Dad were able to fix it. While the interruption on Halloween may have been a bit inconvenient, the timing was also a tender mercy. The van could have died while Jason was in New York, during the chaos of loading the truck, or heaven forbid, in the middle of Wyoming.

Even with all the disruptions, Halloween still included all the essentials: costumes, trick-or-treating, and of course, Grandma Susie's chili with cinnamon rolls.
Grandma Susie with three of her minions.
Eli minion wakes up from his nap.

All the minions, eager to go trick or treating.  Can you hear the shouts?  "Bapple!"  "Ba Na Na."
Brooklyn and Talia minions, plenty high even before all the sugar.  I edited the Despicable Bogey from Talia's nose.  You're welcome.
Here's Gru with his minions after a sugar-filled spin around the neighborhood.
As you can see, our littlest minion got all tuckered out.  But even though her eyelids drooped, that fantastic hair kept right on poking through.  Other costume ideas: Pebbles and Cindy Loo Hoo.
Thanks to everyone for making Halloween so special!