Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday Bullets, June 30, 2017

How did it get to be Friday? While in some respects, the week felt very long, it also feel as though it has zipped by. Let's start to get back to a more normal schedule, and do some Friday bullets.

  • Kenzie is currently a very nervous dog. He looks concerned due to the hound in him, most of the time, but this week has him looking truly pathetic. Every time someone gets in the car, he tries to get in, too, as if to say, "Are we going to go home now?!" The cats and quail don't seem to notice or care too much about the change of scenery. 
  • In positive Kenzie news, his recall is getting much better. P. and I have had him out in the back and been calling him back and forth between us. He has done a distance of several hundred feet now. Unless the barn cats from next door wander by. Kenzie has decided the barn cats are mortal enemies and must be vanquished... if he could ever get near them. We are not quite there to trying him off the leash.
  • The wall was taken down yesterday. Someone from J.'s work, who does contracting type stuff on the side was able to come out and do it. He wasn't able to take it as far back as I wanted because of water pipes, but it is still a good five feet more open. But it also doesn't look as though the floor guys will be able to get out to finish the patching until next week. I guess the movers will just have to work around the gap and the stacks of flooring.
  • J. figured out the small tractor today and mowed the entire property. It's an old tractor, and J. likened it to riding on a bucking bronco. He anticipates being a little sore tomorrow as a result. In hindsight, he realized that breaking the mowing into two different days would probably be wiser. And some ear protection. That old tractor is pretty loud.
  • I think I know why some people have the mistaken belief that they cannot cook. If, whether by necessity or cheapness, they bought they bought the lowest price range, it is not surprising that cooking does not come easily. Our current range is definitely on the low end of appliances. It's like cooking over a candle. I'm actually surprised it can even boil water. How do people function with such a low flame on their burners? I really think if finances make the lowest end all a person can afford, spending the money on one or two really good hot plates would be far more efficient. At least then you could actually cook something. Things that took me minutes to saute on my old cook top are taking me 20 or 30 minutes to cook here. It's throwing off my game a bit. 
  • My complaint about the range is also indicative of my return to actually preparing meals. There have been many sighs of relief from the masses that we are finally eating 'real' food again.
  • Y., who has had too many changes recently, is continuing to mourn the move from Evanston. It has been a fairly constant refrain for the past week. This in and of itself, isn't a problem, and is certainly understandable. The trouble is that sometimes it's terribly contagious. I can have a houseful of happy people, and then once Y. starts in, we can go from happy to communal wailing in the span of several minutes.
  • R.'s anxiety is also back up at an all-time high. This is also understandable. The trouble is, that it is seeming more and more as though her seizures are totally anxiety-produced. She has been having auras and some shaking over the past couple of days, and it is very difficult to parent her in this state as she is totally unreasonable. That would be unreasonable as in not full of reason, just acting on pure, overwhelming emotion. It also means that neither J. nor I got much sleep last night. 
  • We think the quail thinks he's a cat. Every so often, we will happen upon him while he is resting. Except that sometimes when he rests, he lays on his side with one leg extended. The first couple of times we noticed him like this, we thought he was dead. It is a very unbird-like way to rest. And then we realized that this is exactly how Nefertiti would lie on top of his box when he was still little. We think he has imprinted on the giant cat, and decided that was how animal such as he should rest. If I can get a picture of him doing it at some point, I will share it. It's just goofy.
  • TM and D. return from Boy Scout camp this Sunday. The house will feel very full with the combined effect of having two 14 yo boys home, and filled with furniture and boxes.
  • I will try to be better about pictures. My mom has requested one of the house with all the trees leafed out, and I'll share the current wall situation picture with you as well. I'll try to get to that tomorrow. I've spent today trying to figure out where everything that is currently in the house is going to live so that it is all stored when the furniture and boxes arrive on Monday. 
  • I'm not actually looking forward to that, mainly because I know it will be several days of chaos again, and I am just feeling as though I have dug out of the initial chaos of our arrival. 
  • There are many people who are very excited about sleeping in beds again, though. Y. has told me, "I don't even remember what it is like to sleep in a bed." There is a countdown of how many more nights until the beds arrive. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017


It took moving to a new house where we couldn't get internet and a week living without internet connection to push me over the edge and get a smart phone. I now have unlimited data, as well as a hot spot so that I can do basic things, such as pay some bills and blog.

I thought I would share some before and after pictures of the the inside of the house. We have spent this week living in the kitchen while the floors of the rest of the house were being redone. The installers are almost all done, and it is looking wonderful. I'm glad we went ahead and had this done. First, the before pictures.

This was taken before we bought the house, and I show it to you merely to let you see the carpet which was in nearly all the downstairs rooms. This is the living room, by the way.

Upstairs we had a cacophony of carpet colors. This is just a mere sampling. But now...

This carpet is going up both stairs as well as in all the bedrooms of the second floor. It is a terrific improvement.

And this flooring is going down in all the places where that carpet used to be. I am really loving how it is turning out. 

In the interim, we have all been spending a lot of time in the kitchen all week. It's not so bad when it is not raining and we can be outside, but yesterday was a bit like being cooped up in a hotel room with 9 people and a dog, with workmen using power tools in the hallway outside. Today is much better as we have more of the house open to us and the weather is cooperating.

The only hitch in my well-laid plans is that the contractor I carefully set-up to remove the wall between the dining room and living room never showed, despite repeated emails and phone messages. I have no idea what happened, but boy, is it frustrating. J. found someone at work who does construction on the side who is going to come by today and take a look at it. Then, when the wall is finally out, the floor guys will return to patch the small space that is left. I have no idea if this will all be done before the furniture arrives on Monday. Grrr.

In the meantime, I've read some books and done some gardening. See my new little vegetable bed I made? It's not a lot of vegetables, but it's something, since I'm pretty sure we're not going to get to a bigger garden this year. It also has some of the iris I brought from the old house (which came from my parent's house years ago.)

This is along the south side of the shed we have. It's where the little tractor/ride-on mower lives. How crazy is it that we have a shed with a tractor?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hello New House

The closings went off without a hitch, and so now I can finally show you where we are living. 

Welcome to the Big Ugly House Barn! (Yes, it really is a converted barn, and while I love it, there are more than a few things about the decorating that allows us to retain the Big Ugly description of our home. Plus, we've become rather attached to it.

This picture was taken a few months ago, so the trees have a lot more leaves on them. I also have been spending every waking moment trying to sort out the mess of what we brought with us, and have not been terribly diligent in taking pictures. That will have to wait for future posts.

Speaking of future posts. I am currently sitting in the Town and Country Library in Elburn (which is very nice, by the way), where I went to make use of the free wi-fi, and get a library card. I'm not sure the librarian took me quite seriously when I said I 'needed' a library card, but it was absolutely true. I now have a happy stack of books sitting next to me, and life already feels a bit more settled. But all of that to say that we still don't have wi-fi sorted out at the house, yet, which makes it difficult to do much of anything these days. If you need me, call my cell phone, and cross your fingers that a) I hear it b) it has money on it, and c) it is charged. (Yes, I'm going to break down and get a smart phone. J. is working on figuring out the best way to take care of phones and internet.)

The littles returned from camp, and all had a spectacular time. They are adjusting to the new house, but I don't think it will take too long, given how much they have already played outside. Now TM and D. are off to boy scout camp. They miss the fun of living in one room of the house while the floors are redone this next week. 

All in all, we are doing well. We have no idea where anything is, and are still figuring out how to use appliances and things. But I think it is all going to work, and that this house is going to fit us very well. I am really quite in love with both the house and land. The land in particular is so beautiful. I keep feeling as though someone has let me live in a vacation house, and then has told me that I don't have to go home. 

One of the best parts so far, is that M. and B. were able to join us at the new house on the first night, so all 14 of us were together in our new home. It just seemed right. And since the P. Family mom was a big piece of making that puzzle work, she was there the next day, too, so got to see it. And take a family picture of all of us in front of our new home.

This is the good one, here is one where only one person is actually looking at the camera.

If you are curious, this is the drive that goes from the road, down the side of our house, to the parking area. There are big maples all along the side of it, and a big garden in front of the house on the other.

So, hello new house! We are so excited to settle in and make new memories together!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Goodbye old house

I'm not sure I would recommend spending one's 26th anniversary doing a final packing of one's home. It was definitely the most stressful part of the week, and even with some amazing packing on J. and TM's part (and an extremely full trailer, van, and two cars), we still had to leave some for the P. Family to bring to us on Saturday. But we did it, and are now settled in our hotel with five children and four animals.

Last night, our older children started out having some fun wrapping siblings up in the leftover packing plastic wrap, which then devolved into a whole family dodge ball game in the empty dining room. I just want to go on record as saying that it is hard to compete against children who have years of dodge ball practice at church and Boy Scouts. (Besides the fact that my husband and children paly a far different version of dodge ball than I grew up playing. I think it is the difference between having gyms verses having PE class on a field all year long.) It was all crazy and fun and an extremely perfect way to spend our last night in our house.

Tomorrow we hang out in the morning while the old house closes (and around 10 am, I will finally start breathing again.) Then at noon, we will get our children and animals settled, and go do our final walk-through for our new house. The closing will follow afterwards, and we will have a new home. This new home currently does not have wi-fi, so I have no idea when I will be able to update with news and pictures. I will do so as soon as I can.

So, good-bye Big Ugly House. You gave us some fantastic memories, and allowed us to bring home five children from Vietnam and China. We will miss you. (Though we won't miss the stress and the taxes.)

It also seems fitting that we are starting a brand-new chapter of our lives on our anniversary. Off to a new adventure.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

No where to sit...

except on the floor or a few folding chairs, which are not so comfy. It's probably a very, very good thing that our little people are not here this week. The past three days have been fairly crazy, and that combined with there being nothing in the house would probably have proved to be too much for them. And for us dealing with them not dealing with things. Last night big people grabbed a sleeping bag and pretty much chose a random spot where ever on the floor. At least two slept in the kitchen because it, at least, had a rug. Not so tonight.

The haulers spent the day here, today, and everything we are not taking with us is gone. Another very good friend came over this morning and helped me pack all the food. It was a good thing she was here. Not only does she have amazing visual spacial skills and is thus very good at packing, but more than once, I found myself just standing and staring with very few thoughts running through my head, except the vague notion that I should be doing something. We then enlisted all the big kids, and while my friend packed, they carried out a van load of stuff to be driven to the storage locker. I think we should be able to get the last things in the cars, van, and trailer tomorrow when it is time to pull out.

TM rode out with me to the storage locker this afternoon, and we got all the stuff stashed inside. I took the opportunity to drive by the house another time. After all the moving and removing, I kind of needed the reassurance that it was still there, and that it was as beautiful as I remembered it being. It was on both counts. It was a bit reassuring as we face another 24 hours of an empty house before we close the door for good.

I'm excited for the new house, but am also feeling more than a little melancholy about leaving this one. I don't like change. Just as I want the go back button on my children to make them small again every so often, I also kind of want to the button that puts us in all the places we have previously lived. Just to visit every so often.

Other than throw the last few things in laundry baskets (we're out of boxes and I refuse to buy any more), we're set. I have crossed off all the items on my massive lists, including taking cuttings of the wisteria and lilacs, and thinning the iris to take with us.

Less than 48 hours, and we start a brand new chapter in our lives.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

7 Hours, 8 Guys, and 3 Trucks Later... or what happens you take all the chairs away

Look carefully, and you'll see D. lying on his back there at the end of the kitchen.

A., who seems to be ready for bed, and R.

Living rooms... these look even bigger without the furniture in them.

Dining Room

The movers were great and fast. Tomorrow the removers (the people taking away all the stuff we are not keeping) show up, and we play this game again, though a slightly different version.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Camp and boxes

Yesterday we took a day off from packing and delivered our five who were going to church camp. 




G., Y., and L. are all in the same cabin.

K. gets to have best friends and a cousin in his cabin. It doesn't get much cooler than that.

Today, we slept a little longer than we meant to. Without those five who were dropped off at camp. the house is very quiet for a very long time in the morning. We made up for it though. There are still a few things left to do tonight, but I think we are about 99.9% done. (A huge, huge thanks to the P. Family mom who spent all day here helping out. Without her help, we would be getting a lot less sleep tonight.) Here are a few pictures of what the house is looking like these days.

This is my favorite box tower. That huge box on top is actually very light, and is our big beanbag chair. That is an extra large box, with its flaps still up, that M. constructed a new lid for it.

The tricky thing about all this is that we are not taking everything with us. We have piles in nearly every room of things that are going on the moving truck and things that are not. One thing we did today was to organize those piles a bit more. We also went down to the lawyer's office today and did our portion of the signing of the closing papers. There are a lot of closing costs to pay in this area. City and County all get their pretty significant cut of the proceeds. The good news is that we will be done with this house financially, but I'm not sure how much of our remodeling plans for the new house we will actually be able to do. Everything just adds up so fast. I know I'm currently living on the corner of physically and emotionally exhausted, so will try not to think about that too much at this given moment.

Hey, as a complete aside and distraction, do any of my faithful readers have both a husky and a cat? How is that? Is is working? What did you do to make it work? I'm eager to hear your stories, so don't be afraid to comment.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Birthday celebrations

Last night everyone (!) gathered together and we celebrated the June birthdays. (Have a mentioned that my family, when all together is loud. Very, very loud.) It was perhaps the most low key celebration in all the history of low key family celebrations. We'll do more next year. It was also the last celebration in this house. (Sniff.) Here are some pictures from the evening. (You'll notice the higher quality. M. had the camera and took some pretty good pictures.

L. blowing out her birthday candle

A. and G.

G. blowing out her birthday candle

The whole crew

B., J., and D., who is waiting for his candle

This little series was too fun not to share the whole set. I only had one '2' candle, so they were making due with on to make the age 22.

The cats enjoyed the party. In their own cat-like way.

L. was thrilled with the guide to bugs and slugs.

G. got a panda lamp.

D. received a book he wanted.

B. asked for money for groceries (the joys of being an adult), and Y. made him a birthday card.

And we threw Father's Day into the mix as well. Here's J.'s new t-shirt.

And now off to pack some more. I would like to be 99% done by tonight. I think we can do it. I think....

Friday, June 16, 2017

For your convenience... or feeling easily irritated

I seem to have hit a wall. Actually I hit the wall about 11:30 this morning when I called J. at work and burst into tears. (Lucky man.) I managed to get the bills paid (painful), and a friend came over and together we packed some things I wasn't quite sure what to do with. I am feeling a little better, but am avoiding looking at any boxes at the moment.

I also realized that I had yet to fill out a change of address form at the post office. Now, those of you who have moved recently are laughing at my thinking that I had to actually go to the post office to do this. The last time I moved, you really did have to go fill out the little card at the post office. That was 16 years ago. I discovered you don't have to do that now. Conveniently, this can all be done online.

If my version of Blogger that I use was updated enough, I would italicize the word 'conveniently' in the above paragraph. But I've learned the hard way that if I italicize words, they disappear. So pretend it's in italic. Because it's not all that convenient. I was already at the post office for goodness' sake, and quite willing and ready to fill out the little card. The little card which would cost me no money to drop into the mail slot.

So, discovering that I couldn't do what I went to the post office to do, L. and I went back home, and I pulled up the USPS web page. Well, I pulled it up after I completely had to reboot my wi-fi, because our wireless stinks and no one's devices which use wi-fi can hold a signal with it. So, I'm already at about 8 minutes for this 'fast and easy' method. But I get on and find the form. I fill out the information and click through the pages until I get to the page which asks me for credit card information.


I just want to change my address, I don't want to buy anything. What's up with that? Well, it would seem that by making the change of address form so quick and convenient, they realized that someone might change another person's address who wasn't allowed to. So, to verify someone's identity in this new, quick and easy method, you now get the privilege of paying $1.00. I looked, both at the post office and on the web page, and there are no other options for changing your address. You need computer access and a credit card to do so. (Apparently the only people who get mail have both these things. I don't think I really believe that.)

I realize that $1.00 is really not that much money. People routinely give my children much more than that when they are selling 'drawings' at their art sales. It's the fact that none of us really has a choice about it. We cannot choose another company to deliver our mail for us. We can't look to see who has the better service and better rate. We just get to accept whichever 'convenient' system they come up with which they tout is for our 'benefit.'

As you can probably tell, I wasn't happy. Since I tend to write kvetchy emails to businesses I'm not happy with, I did the same this time. Their response form is another multi-page fun fest. As I was reading through my rather lengthy message, I noticed a typo. Since I was at a page that was not editable, I did what any normal person would do and clicked the edit button.

And it sent me back to the first page, erasing everything that I had filled in and written, so that I could start all over again. Thus, you get a blog post.

I'll go back to my packing now. Since my bills are paid, it's time to pack up desk, filing cabinet, and fireproof safe.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Happy 8th Birthday, G. and L! Happy 22nd Birthday, B.!

Yes, because we don't have enough going on, we also have a ton of birthdays in the next two weeks, starting with the three today. We are going low key this year, and celebrating these three officially tomorrow night, and D. as well since his birthday is after everyone heads to church camp and the day we move.

It's all craziness.

Today I had two very good friends come over, and between the three of us we packed nearly everything in my kitchen that we won't need for the next two weeks. It was about 20 boxes. I couldn't have done it without them.

There's lots about our move that's fun. New house, lots of land, a new adventure. There's also a lot about moving that's not fun, especially at this point. The endless packing, not knowing where anything is, the feeling of being perpetually unsettled. As someone who likes nesting and feeling settled and organized, this is not comfortable. I cannot wait to unpack. Actually I cannot wait to be past the packing. I think we may make it, and not have to stay up until 3 am to do so.

Tonight, though, we're done packing for the day (mainly because I've run out of boxes and packing materials), and we'll do a little celebration with the three birthday people tonight.

So, B., G., and L. I love you all. I love watching all three of you together. I love the people you are and are growing into. Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

If I only had a brain...

This is the song that keeps running through my head. It shows how marginally functional I am currently feeling. It's as though I cannot hold two sequential thoughts in my head at the same time. Now, I realize this is pretty typical for a mother, but this version is far worse. I've even started talking to myself to help me remember why I entered a room. Several times, children have asked me what I was saying to them, and I've realized I was talking out loud. This is my long explanation as to why there could possibly be a significant decrease in blogging over the next week or so.

Here's our timeline:

Sunday, we drive H., K., Y., G., and L. up to their week-long church camp. My goal is to be done by then.

Monday is any last minute moving van packing, and sorting each room into discernible piles, to make it easier for the movers to know what to take. J. and I will also wander down to our lawyer's office and sign all the papers for the closing of this house.

On Tuesday the 20th, the moving vans pull up and cart away almost all of our possessions. Tuesday night, we all sleep in sleeping bags on the floor of this house.

Wednesday brings the people who are hauling out everything we are not taking, and who will also sweep. I met again with my contact person, and am feeling a bit better about doing this, because instead of the junking everything they take away, they actually find homes for most of it. While they are doing this, I will be packing up everything from the kitchen that we will want with us before the moving vans return, as well as washing all the bedding that came off the beds the day before. I may also need to make a trip out to the storage locker if the pile of stuff we are moving ourselves looks to be too big for a single load.

Thursday is another day of getting ready to actually vacate the house. I will finish any last minute laundry (and for a few hours of my existence everything will be clean at the same time.) We will also start packing up the van, car, and trailer with everything that we are taking with us. After D.'s acting class that he is taking, we will do the final look around, load up all the vehicles, and close the door on the Big Ugly House for the last time. (That still feels very unreal to think about.) We will head to a pet friendly hotel where we will all spend the night.

Friday we will have a leisurely morning while the closing of the first house happens without us being there. (Yeah. This is for the best for oh, so many reasons.) Then in the afternoon, we will leave big people and animals in the hotel, no doubt rotting their brains with cable TV while J. and I go to the closing of our new house. (Somehow, we don't think anyone would be thrilled with four children, 1 dog, 2 cats, and 1 quail appearing to help sign papers. I think that at this time, A. will be driving back to Evanston to pick-up B., and bring him back. When we are the new owners of our new house, we will go to the hotel, pick-up people, animals, and trailer, and head to our new house. We will then quickly unhitch and unload the van so that B. and A. can go drive up to church camp and collect the campers. We will then all spend the night in our new house, in sleeping bags on the floor. (Do you see a theme here?) I need to find a name for the new house... it's going to grow old calling it, 'the new house.'

Saturday will be free, and on Sunday, J. will get up very early with TM and D. and drive them back to Evanston so that the boys can leave for Boy Scout camp.

Monday brings contractors and flooring guys who will spend the week taking out a wall and old flooring and putting down new. They are pretty sure they can get it all done in five days. In the meantime, we will be sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor each night.

Finally, the next Monday, July 3, the moving vans arrive and our furniture will join us at the house. Then we will find out exactly how much more stuff I should have gotten rid of, because I'm a little afraid that once everything is in, we will not be able to move around.

So there you go. It will be sad and exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. I cannot wait to stop having quite so many balls in the air at a time, and plan on spending the rest of the summer leisurely unpacking boxes.

Lastly, for the two people who tried playing my guessing game, as of last Friday, the number of boxes that had been packed was 303, so Carla was closest. I believe the new current tally is in the 340's, and I still have to do two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bunch of framed pictures. (Framed pictures have become my single least favorite thing to pack. I really dislike doing it, and am putting off doing the rest.)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quail Mansion

A good friend came over and spent the day with me and we dug out packed up all the third floor playroom toys. We even got to K.'s room, which was really just a continuation of the toy packing. And she made me a really yummy salad for lunch. It was the most fun I've had packing yet.

And then just as she and her children were leaving, a great big box arrived. (It says a lot that I was as excited about the size of the box and the bubble wrap inside than the item that was packed in it.) It was the giant rabbit hutch that I ordered. No, we are not getting rabbits. It's for Q. (Who may be going to turn out to be a boy after all. We're still not sure.) Of course, everyone insisted that we OPEN IT UP and TAKE IT OUT and PUT IT TOGETHER. RIGHT NOW! Delayed gratification is still a developing skill for some of these people.

Here is what we ended up with. It's as though Q. started out in cardboard shack and suddenly found himself in a penthouse. He wandered around making worried and hesitant chirps for a while. Here he and the new house are.

Isn't this a cute picture? I didn't take it.

Here's the whole thing. It's made to house two large rabbits, so our one little quail has plenty of room.

A very cool feature is this lid that lifts ups. It is so much easier to get inside than his box was.

One happy, and vaguely confused, quail.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Belated birthday gift

In our family, girls at age 13 get to have their ears pierced, if they so desire. H. did, so that was one of her birthday gifts a year and a half ago. Since her birthday is in the middle of October, I was waiting until her sisters could join us to make it more of a party. And then the holidays hit. And getting ready to travel for Y. and R. And the whole next year, where she turned 14. Every so often she would ask, and I would mentally put 'get H.'s ears pierced' back on my to-do list. Where it sat. And sat.

This morning, the H-S Family was back in town on their way back to the west coast, and I was asked if we would like to come be part of the party when MY H-S got her ears pierced. I said, yes, not only would we like to come, we would join the ear piercing party. So this afternoon, H., P., and A. and I headed to the store to join our friends to have a little piercing done.

H. before she got her earrings. This look is saying, you say this will be OK, but I'm not so sure.

Getting her ears pierced. (She did great.)

New earrings! (She chose little, sparkly, multi-colored flowers.)

MY H-S and H. with sparkly ears.

I may not have packed a single box today, but I did say good-by to all of my piano students and check a major to-do item off my list. I think it still counts as a productive day.
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