The Life & Times of Mommiehood

Here I am finding my way through uncharted waters.

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still tired.

We finally made it to our destination after our pit stops in Minneapolis and Wisconsin Dells. Awesome to give my mama a big hug and have two excited grand kids want to tell her everything. At once. They are now in bad and hopefully won’t decide to wake up at 6 am. A girl can dream right?

We had a great, albeit short, time in Minnesota. While there were a few people I would have loved to see and didn’t get to, we got to see all of the hubby’s aunts and uncles and my aunt as well as my gram and three of our cousins. We stayed at “cousins house” where our kids have a blast with second cousins or whatever your cousins kids are in relation to your kids.

The one thing that makes me batty is how bonkers my kids act when we are on a trip. It’s like they completely forget anything they have been taught. We catch them jumping on furniture, yelling or screaming for no apparent reason, taking things apart, tormenting each other and, well, bouncing off the walls. Too much excitement to be contained in their little bodies I guess.

After Minnesota we decided to stop on our way to Illinois in Wisconsin. The Dells. When I was younger we did this once as a family. Had an initial visit, where my parents took us on one of the boat tours and that was it. We never went back. I thought we could do the same thing. While the boy would have probably seriously enjoyed one of the water parks I knew the girl was totally not ready for that kind of excitement so figured we’d find a reasonable hotel with a pool and go on one of the Duck rides. Check out what the Dells had to offer and maybe in a couple years head back for more of the water park fun.

We were disappointed. The Duck ride was fun, but I was not prepared to get soaked. It wasn’t cheap. We decided to go to the “downtown” and look in the shops. Where one goes to pay far too much money for everything. So … yeah. The little scouting trip did not make me want to go back any time soon. I’m sure that as the kids get older we will stop again and maybe stay in one of the resorts with a water park as part of the hotel or go to Noah’s Ark, but really I’m ok if we just keep driving through to Illinois. If I’m going to spend far too much money on stuff I’d rather go to Estes Park or Breck.

Glad to be at my mom’s now.

Maybe I can find some energy.


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Great gram.

This little dude warmed up and eventually really enjoyed some snuggle time with his great gram.

Melts my heart.

Thankful for the opportunity to see her today as well as my auntie and cousin.

Snuggling and getting some family history with great gram.

Snuggling and getting some family history with great gram.

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Road tripping. Part 1.

We made it through yesterday.

Left the house at 8am and rolled into the hotel around 9:30pm. Granted there is a time zone change in there but that is still a really long day on the road.

I’m super sore now but we finished our trek to visit family near Minneapolis getting in this afternoon and enjoying a BBQ with aunts, uncles and cousins for dinner. Really thankful they all came by and our hosts put together a great evening. Looking forward to seeing my cousin and gram, aunt and another cousin, as well as maybe less time in the car tomorrow!

Here’s one of my favorite pictures of the trip so far. She spent a couple hours under this “tent” … until she fell asleep and then I woke her up trying to move the map away so she didn’t end up with a paper cut. Granted we only had a few minutes left in the car at that point but man she was a tired puppy today! So was her brother for that matter, though neither wanted to admit to that.

How the girl reads a map in the car.

How the girl reads a map in the car.

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Practice, practice, practice. Pack, pack, pack.

My day has been pretty busy.

I slept in after the concert yesterday. Woke up and ended up spending most of the day convincing the kids to practice, practice, practice before the recital tomorrow night. The boy did finally and I’m so proud of him, he feels more confident with his song and even has it pretty much memorized. He was so excited and proud of himself as well. The girl has practiced a lot and I think will do wonderful for her first recital. Then there’s me. Hope I don’t screw up my song, I’ve practiced more than the kids combined!

Met with our contractor about painting the halls and entryways and the other small bits of wall and trim in the kitchen. I can’t wait to come home and see it all finished. This has been in my head for MONTHS! Then maybe we can finally get some of our pictures on the wall. You know, after almost two years in the house. He will also be repairing some of the deck and getting down some stuff to hopefully extend the life of our deck a few years. I’m not ready to have to replace that quite yet. Will be nice to have here projects done while we are gone!

The rest of my day was spent getting some packing done. The kids helped me get some of their clothes together. Finishing the last of the wash. We have learned to pack bags for the destinations and not the people in our family so there is a bag for the first hotel, the first family stay, the second hotel and then the big bag for the final destination. On the way home we just make sure there’s one bag ready for the midway pit stop. Then there’s the toiletry bag that’s with us everywhere. Works well and we don’t end up having to take in scads of luggage at every location. Takes a bit more planning and coordination though.

I still need to finish packing my clothes and make sure the food is all ready for the cooler … stuff for the kids in the car … but we are getting closer. Hoping we can be mostly ready to go tomorrow because Friday is a LOOOONNNGG day in the car and we need to get started early!

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Who knew landscaping work was so expensive. I mean crazy expensive. I realize we have some issues most homeowners do not, mainly the retaining walls which of course are rotting and ugly and not completely doing their job in some places. We also have a pretty massive back yard.

I would like to fix my kitchen. Aside from keeping some appliances the kitchen pretty much needs to be gutted, new cabinets, some boards replaced in the wood floor, new counter tops and back splash. Hardwood extended into the dining room (who leaves carpet in a dining room?) and maybe a new pantry area.

When I could most likely do my kitchen for significantly less than the backyard … The landscaping is expensive.

Our first quote made me cry. Give up. Frustrated me.

We had a second person come look. My MIL had her stroke before we got that quote but I got the same impression that it’d be a crap-ton of Cleveland’s.

Found a guy in our neighborhood who does landscape design, had him come look and did not get the impression he could handle the project. Or at least not in a way to make me confident or comfortable trusting him. He is retired so he contracts things with others, making estimates and costs potentially INSANE and unmanageable because it’s with so many different people. With all the things we need done his solution was to pull out my loathsome bushes and “start there” … What next? Who knows. That scares me more than the overall cost of the retaining walls. Which he seemed to avoid altogether.

That was Monday. I decided to finally call the grandfather of one of the students at my school. I’d heard good things about the work he’s done shortly after moving into our home but never called because we always knew it would be expensive, just not the magnitude of expense we are discovering. I’ve had his number in my phone for a year and a half and even back in March wanted to call but just never had the time.

He came this morning and brought his “wall guy” and we talked about what we wanted (no more decrepit wood walls, no more weeds and awful bushes on the top tier, can take or leave the “planter boxes”, possible sprinkler system fixes that makes sense to take care of) and things we were hoping for (easy maintenance for my black thumb, play area for the kids) I made it clear that they are the ones who know what they are doing and I trust them to make it look good.

Meeting these professionals just felt right. Hard to explain that. It seemed like when we met this was who we should have do the work. When we were walking around outside he talked about giving us separate bids for each part of the project. He got that we can’t just drop $40,000 at once on the project to get it all done at once. I know they took measurements and will be emailing bids to me later, and I’m praying that these are doable for us, that we can get started maybe this fall and do another step next spring. That maybe my kitchen doesn’t have to be put off too much longer.

For the first time since we had that first meeting and quote I’m hopeful.
Pictures of the yard right now … Hoping we can go from the top down and then out to the sides. Thankful the south neighbors are willing to help with the fence that borders our properties, that will be huge! Oh, and maybe we can get the cable buried too, wouldn’t that be nice.

The middle tier in our yard and a close up of some of the bushes and stuff that's overgrown.

The middle tier in our yard and a close up of some of the bushes and stuff that’s overgrown.

Mostly what the yard looks like, the middle and sides.

Mostly what the yard looks like, the middle and sides.

The uppermost tier and the broken fences, all the weeds. The one tree or bush I like is the reddish purple one.

The uppermost tier and the broken fences, all the weeds. The one tree or bush I like is the reddish purple one.

The sides of the yard. More fence issues because apparently when the north neighbors redid their fence the previous owner did not follow suit.

The sides of the yard. More fence issues because apparently when the north neighbors redid their fence the previous owner did not follow suit.

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Almost Eight. Almost.

Today was the second day to celebrate the boy turning eight. Which doesn’t officially happen till Wednesday but mid-week celebrations aren’t the easiest to orchestrate.

I’m terrible at long term planning but we got the invites out at the end of the school year, earlier in fact than we did last year. I even remembered to get out a reminder email since lots of things get misplaced in the end of the year chaos. We even ended up with a few RSVPs. And I remembered to at least message a few friends about the party since the invites never quite made it to church with us.

Yesterday we celebrated with nana and papa. Took up some ninja turtle plates and napkins and how to train your dragon cupcakes. He came home with some Lego loot. Was great to see nana and papa and spend the day together despite the long drive.

This year we did our best to keep the friend party simple. Made it after lunch, before dinner, outside. Thankfully when I remembered to ask my awesomely creative friend Natalie to come face paint and do a mini magic show she was still available so we had some good entertainment for the kids (which the adults used as chat time!) we had the squirt guns out and some kids brought gifts of more squirt guns and water balloons. So we had lots of water fun, just like last year. Some of the face paint even made it through the festivities unscathed.

LayoutThe magic part of the day was fun.
Kids learned some fun tricks and the parents got to sit and chat uninterrupted for 40 minutes.

I had one kid tell me they had fun and others you could tell were enjoying the afternoon. All in all it was a good way to ring in turning eight.

One more celebration on the horizon. Wednesday on the actual day we are going to a screening of two IMAX movies at the museum with movie snacks included. Pretty neat that the event fell on his birthday.

Cool things about having an eight year old:
No more car seats.
He’s still a little kid but he’s also pretty independent.
Third grade is my favorite.
You can have some pretty neat conversations.
That reasoning piece is starting to help him make better decisions and think about what-might-happen-if.
He can really do a lot to be helpful around the house (and sometimes even wants to).

When it was all over I even had the opportunity to take one of my good friends for a ride in Sapphire. Having a convertible is just so much fun.

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the unexpected

The past month has been crazy.

When I think about it all I’m amazed at how far we’ve come (and how much better our house looks!).

We started by finding this:

And after finally getting the insanely long crack in the pipe between our condo and the one above us fixed we left for a week in the Midwest with my family and the Cubbies … coming home to this:

Within a week most of our house was put back to rights. We started by getting some drywall put up between the kitchen and the kids’ bedroom on the other side (poor Graycie she loved being able to have access to the previously forbidden corner! … the boy sure thought it was grand to be able to talk to someone in the kitchen as well). Next came the unexpected blessing of getting the drywall fixed in the kids’ room earlier than we had anticipated and boy did that come out fabulous!

The afternoon the drywall got fixed I was able to pick out the new carpeting and set them to come install it after the weekend giving myself some time to paint over the new wall. The next day our awesome kitchen/bath guru came out and once again put my kitchen [mostly] together in a day. I’m so very amazed at what that man can do in a day.

After the weekend in which I painted the kids’ room we were able to get the carpet installed, as well as the baseboard in the kids’ room and the last few details in the kitchen taken care of; well, all but needing to paint the trim and some places behind the stove.

Then the crazy task of getting all our stuff back in the right place.

First up was just getting the boy’s bed in place and most of his stuff in a reasonable spot as well.

Today I moved the girl’s crib into their room.

We almost have our master bedroom back. Aside from the mess in there we have it all to ourselves again!

What a [still unfinished] journey.