Thursday, April 19, 2012

Springy Trees

Wow! Thanks for all the sympathy and kind words about the house! Our search continues. Last Sunday we took a little family drive (after a spur-of-the-moment lunch outing at Dog N Suds, the local hotdog drive-in/rootbeer stand) out to a house in a nearby town. It looked interesting in the pictures and was nearly ten acres. Intriguing, right? We got there and were blown away. In both a literal and a very bad figurative way. The nine acres was okay, but it was mostly field and was surrounded by bigger fields. And it was a really windy day. It was so windy I almost couldn't get Greta out of the car because the wind kept closing the door on me! And then there was the house, which was really something. had at least one gaping hole in the roof, but the best part was the tree that was branching out of the windows--FROM THE INSIDE!!  If it hadn't been such a long, whiney drive to get there (evidently church, followed by lunch in the car, followed by a thirty minute drive to the middle of nowhere is not an ideal day for a three year old and a four year old) it would have been really, really funny. I'm kind of excited to see what kind of other miserable places we find during this search!
Later that night on Sunday Martin and I went to a grownups-only dinner with my sister and her husband. I wish I would have gotten a picture of the four of us. It was a really fun night! Good Indian food, free henna, and since we slipped out early from the dinner due to an early bedtime but then it turned out the kids were all having a baseball game up at Ooma and Oompa's (or something like that) we all went out for a cup of coffee as well. It was a really nice evening!

For Easter I knitted up some little eggs for the girls. I ended up making five or six of them, and then I made a nest out of mohair. (I got the eggs and nest patterns from the blog Small Things, thanks to my sister who got me reading that.) The nest turned out super cute, but I didn't get it done as quickly as I would've liked, and since I didn't have it done by Easter morning and I couldn't finish two in one day (that day being Easter Sunday) I gave the nest and a few of the eggs to my niece Bella for her birthday (which was what I had intended, except I was going to make a second one for her. But in the end, it doesn't really matter at all and this long rambling paragraph really has no point up to now.) So anyway. I eventually did make a second nest and instead of using the original egg pattern (because those eggs turned out pretty large...) I made up a straight needle pattern for smaller ones and they turned out alright. Then I found the pattern on Clare's blog for the little chicks, and I made one in this funny unspun natural colored wool I had and then I added wings to make it more birdish. And this is the completed project all together, as it sits on our dining room table now:
I really love the mohair nest. On Holy Saturday we cut a branch from one of our oak trees which barely even had buds on it and the girls covered it in little playdoh buds. It turned out cuter than it sounds. We stuck the branch in an empty wine bottle and have been using it as a table centerpiece with some springtime animals underneath (except Greta likes to make all the animals take naps, so she lies them down on their sides... so our cute little springy table arrangement just looks like a pile of knocked over toys every day.) Now that we have this cute nest and bird, we moved the tree to the dining room table and Anja has put the bird up in the branches of the tree and it is really cute.

And here's a little picture of Greta from a few mornings ago when she decided to draw on her face with blueberries while I wasn't looking. She was pretty pleased with herself.
Geeminy, can it really be true that I am only seven weeks away from my estimated due date for this baby?! That seems almost impossible. The other day while I was feeling sorry for myself being so big and preggo and tired, I thought "how did I do this when I had baby Anja to take care of too?" I must have been so tired! I really don't remember much of Greta's pregnancy at all (too tired to form memories, I guess) but it must have been really hard. However, everyone we met who said they'd had children about that close together in age said it was hard at the beginning but in the end, the best thing ever and boy were they RIGHT! I can't imagine a bigger space between my girls. I love, love, love that they are so close together in age. Everything is so easy! They can share clothes, they can play the same games, they can both buckle themselves into their carseats.... my life these days is a cinch! If I were smart I would be making and freezing meals, or making cloth diaper covers, or doing something else productive that would help me out in that time coming soon when my life won't be nearly so cinchy.

I'm also really excited to have a June baby! I've never had a warm weather baby before, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm also really looking forward to not being pregnant anymore, haha.

Friday, April 13, 2012


This is not the post I had wanted to write for my interesting post, even though I had prepared for it in my head.  But this is the way our interesting situation turned out, so here it is.

The short story: We put an offer on a house, but we didn’t get it.

The slightly longer story: We found our dream house at a dream price, did everything we could to get it and were beat out moments before the deadline by someone with cash.

And for those interested in all the little details of such a story, here’s the whole thing:

Over the winter we reached a point in this house where we were both financially able to get out and feeling the need to get out due to our expanding family size. I like this house. But it’s not right for a family with young kids. And while it’s a convenient, exciting, pretty awesome place to live for a college student or for a young, childless couple, it’s not the ideal place to raise small children. So we thought it was time to start looking around the area and see what’s out there.  Our ideal spot included a couple of acres, a do-able commute to Martin’s work, and an old house is a plus.

One Saturday in March we had an appointment set up with our realtor (the really nice man who sold us this house) to look at a place about 45 minutes from town. I felt so stupid going out there because I KNEW it wasn’t right for us, I KNEW it was too far and I felt like I was wasting his time and ours by even going out there. But it seemed impolite to cancel, so we went ahead and did it. It was definitely not the house for us, but it was good to talk to our realtor and tell him exactly what we were looking for. And he responded with news of a foreclosure property he’d be listing that wasn’t yet on the market, but it would be soon. He described it as a couple of acres inside our county and a house that was virtually unliveable. It sounded like a pretty sorry place, but it was on the way home so we figured there was no harm in looking and we followed him there.

The road took us through one of our favorite parts of this area, right along the river over by Fort Ouiatenon. And when we pulled into the driveway of this “unliveable” house, Martin and I just kind of stared at each other. It was gorgeous. It was your typical 1900-ish farmhouse with a new roof and new siding and a brand new wooden porch. It had an old barn and a newer pole barn and trees and pasture and a huge garden spot, complete with garden gate. We were speechless. And, less importantly, (but I still took it as a sign) the color of the house was the color I’ve always said I wanted my house to be—a wonderful light green.

He showed us the inside of the house. All wood floors. All finished original woodwork. Three bedrooms upstairs, right close together. A walk-in pantry. A huge cement-floored basement. All new windows, all new wiring… the place was incredible. The one major hiccup was that it needed a lot of finishing work (no paint on any of the walls, for example) and it needed a kitchen.  But the one thing in the kitchen was an old farmhouse sink, which I of course fell in love with immediately.  And the rest of the house was perfect.

The two acres it sat on had pawpaw trees, raspberry bushes, possibly grapes, maple trees, five lilac bushes, and one other tree that I thought was a fruit tree of some sort.  It was the ideal homestead conveniently located right at the edge of our own town.

It took a little thought and strategic work, but we worked out the money side and were able to make an offer as soon as it was listed, last week. We planned to keep and rent our house. We were approved for a loan that would cover the improvements needed to the farmhouse. We had all the workers lined up all the inspections we needed were accounted for.  It all happened fast and easily , and everything seemed to be really working out in our favor. It really seemed like our stars were aligning! (And I suppose they were… just in someone else’s universe.) We could’ve been in by the time the new baby was born.

But, the house was owned by the bank. And banks are tricky and they like their money, and they would prefer to get as much money as they possibly can. And so, when we offered the asking price, it was not accepted. They wanted more. We had a deadline of Wednesday  at noon to put in our “highest and best” offer, and we did exactly that—we offered the absolute most we could afford, which was considerably higher than their asking price.  We wanted this place VERY badly. It just felt like home.

And we almost had it. We were the highest offer until minutes before the deadline, when someone slipped in with a cash offer that was more than we could have afforded. We lost it by minutes.  

Now, in retrospect, the workings of the bank seem unfair and slimy. At the time it seemed weird, but we thought we had a real chance at getting it and we were willing to pay our top dollar to get it. We were willing to do much of the work ourselves. We’d been planning out colors and details and our future in that house for weeks. The bank’s system of selling seemed like an inconvenience to us for having to wait so long but we were accepting of the fact that that’s how they did things—they evidently never take the asking price, always more.  Since we knew that ahead of time, it seemed okay.  But I feel like the time it took to get their few thousand dollars more cost us our dream house. Why couldn’t they have just accepted our offer of their asking price?! It’s just not their standard procedure. They want more.

So now, come June, instead of bringing our third baby home to a sight of fruiting trees and the sound of horses whinnying nearby, we will come home to the same old sights of the port-a-potty across the street and the thugs pushing their shopping carts around. Instead of turning my big kids outside to play I will continue to say “no, we can’t go out right now” because there are too many pedophiles hanging around outside. I’ll continue to close my windows on nice days because the smell of the neighbors’ house makes me sick to my stomach.

But it’s okay! I’m getting over it! It is, after all, just a house. (Our dream house. A house like no other… but I’m trying not to think about that.) We are still a happy little family who possess all our limbs and five senses. A house is just a material possession, right? And we do HAVE a house… we have a roof over our head, which is all we need. And it’s a nice little house! Even if we will be five people crammed into one bedroom really soon.  And besides, I am a firm believer (especially when bad things happen to other people) that there are no mistakes or accidents in life and that everything happens for a reason. Who knows why we were not meant to get that place. Maybe it will get blown down by a tornado. Maybe one of the neighbors is a pedophile. Maybe the garage would’ve fallen down on one of the kids. Who knows? And we may never know.  We just have to trust that it turned out exactly the way it was supposed to.

We will continue our home search. We’ll keep looking for another perfect place—possibly a MORE perfect place. And everything will be just fine in the end, as obnoxious as it all seems right in this moment.

So that is our interesting story! I was very much hoping that this post, when it was finally written, would’ve been the opposite of what it is, but oh well.  I can’t help feeling a little more bitter toward the Big Bad World than I used to be, and I can’t help thinking (aside from “everything happens for a reason”) that “if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.” But, oh well.  There is something out there for us… we just will probably have to wait awhile to find it!

In other news, I’m REALLY glad it’s Friday and I’m fully intending to get out on my own a little bit tomorrow. Are all four year old girls so screechy? Anja has developed this habit of screeching laugh that is driving me up the wall. I mean, I’m glad she’s so happy all the time… but my poor eardrums…  I think tomorrow (or maybe tonight?) I’ll go to Barnes and Noble and enjoy a hot drink while browsing the crafting books. That sounds really, really nice.

And speaking of Anja, today after picking up the same mess for about the fourteenth time, I muttered “I’m so tired of picking up all the time.” Anja heard me and responded, “but you don’t pick up all the time. Sometimes you just sit around doing nothing.”  Let me tell you, that girl and her confidence-boosting words… wow, I just feel so GOOD about myself all the time!

And for the record: When I’m “sitting around doing nothing” lately, it’s because of that damn sciatic (is that how you spell it? I still can never remember how it’s pronounced) nerve that is acting up again this pregnancy. I feel like I had a break from it with Greta… but this time around it’s just like it was when I was pregnant with Anja. Does that mean I’m destined to have another self esteem wrecker? I’m not sure I can take more than one.  (Although this morning after I finally rolled out of bed and joined Greta and Martin downstairs, Greta told me how pretty I looked as I was huddled over my coffee barely able to open my eyes yet.  Her sweetness often makes up for Anja’s more salty opinions of me.)

But geeminy, these girls. Just now I dressed Greta’s doll for her and then told Greta that her baby looked adorable. She burst into tears and screamed that I wasn’t supposed to say that.

Yeah, I definitely think it’s time for this mama to get a little alone time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter... and What You Don't Have

We had a lovely Easter. Here we all are--I have added this family picture to my sidebar under "Our Growing Family" which hasn't been updated since two Christmases ago. (!)  Getting a family picture is hard work alone, but getting a somewhat decent family picture is practically impossible. This is the best we've been able to do in more than a year.
Easter was really nice. There is nothing else quite like the Easter mass at St. Boniface. Sadly, there's nothing quite like the personality change that takes place in my children the moment we step into St. Boniface either. They behaved like non-humans, to put it kindly. Honestly, the people behind us probably thought Greta had something mentally wrong with her. You think I'm joking, but I'm not. She was making these crazy faces and screaming and flinging herself around. Then Anja started doing kind of the same thing except she kept hitting her head on the pew--on purpose. Awesome. All this was intermixed with loud cries every three minutes of "I WANT TO GO HOOOOOOOME!!!!!" Yeah. Not the most spiritually fulfilling of Masses, but that's ok. Because it was Easter and they still had trumpets and it was still beautiful.

We spent the afternoon at my parents' house with parts of both our families, eating really good food and hunting for Easter eggs, celebrating my niece Bella's 4th birthday (we now have three four-year-olds in our extended family!) and soaking up sunshine. It wasn't the warmest of days, but the sunshine was warm and the afternoon ended with many of the adults lounging on the patio, each in his own personal sunbeam with his own personal reading material. Definitely a good holiday.

So, you know how they say "You dont' know what you've got till it's gone?" Very true. I believe it. But there's also a saying that says "You don't know how awful your appliances are until they finally break and you have to replace them." I found out about this statement a few weekends ago when one Friday morning Martin woke up and heard, as he said, water running in a room where there is no sink. It was our water heater and it was leaking. And it was dead. It was a mild inconvenience for a few days, but the inconvenience ended with a new water heater, and suddenly I realized that I've been living with an "inconvenience" for five years. Our new water heater actually WORKS! It heats water--a lot of water! And the most amazing thing is that it STAYS HOT. Not the water coming out of the faucet (although that stays hot too) but the water in the tank!  It used to be that we couldn't shower first thing in the morning in the winter because the water would be MAYBE lukewarm. We had to first do some dishes or something--just enough to make the water heater re-heat... or whatever it does. But I believe my cold winter showers are a thing of the past! Not only that, but with the old water heater we got maybe two inches of bathtub filled with warm water before it went cold. We kind of had to run the girls' baths in stages. Not anymore! Now there's warm water left even after the whole tub is filled!!!!!!!!  Not only that, but today I ran a bath and did dishes AT THE SAME TIME and I didn't run out of hot water!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  This is really incredible. I shouldn't be surprised... looking at our old water heater, it's clear that it was produced in prehistoric times. But I never realized how bad it was. I never knew it wasn't normal.

But now.... my eyes are opened to a whole new world of hot water.

We're having some pet issues along with our appliance issues. The main issue now is Matilda.  She's had this pesky bladder infection for a few months now--she's been to the vet three or four times. It'll go away with medicine and come right back again. And of course, we know when it has returned because we walk through our front door and smell that horrible smell of cat peepee. Finally we couldn't stand it anymore (most of what she goes on has to be thrown away because I can't get the smell out.) We decided that until we can get a good supply of this natural enzyme medicine that seems to work from our vet, she'd have to spend some time outside. We didn't think this would be an issue at all. Lots of cats are inside/outside cats and they always come back, right? Wrong. Not Matilda. We can't catch her now, and she seems to have a boyfriend. (She's fixed, so there will be no kittens. Just a lot of "companionship.") These two are inseparable and if we try to scare the scabby black and white stray cat away, she just runs off with him. Annoooooyyyyiiiing.  We'll see what happens. I think she'll still come back, but just in case, I've been putting food out on the porch for her (and all the other thousands of neighborhood strays, of course.) We'll see.

And I realized in my last post that I spelled "Tandem" wrong. Sorry about that.

We're still nursing.

And there might be an interesting post coming up soon, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Happy Sunny Day

I know it's springtime, but I'm always fooled too soon by it... I think, "oh, high temperature of 75 today? Super warm!" but then when I open my windows or go outside in the morning, I realize, "oh. It's cold." And then I'm cold for the rest of the day. And then I'm annoyed because I didn't realize it woudl happen that way, even though it happens that way every day, every year.

I finished the hoodie I've been working on for the new baby:
 I'm really, really happy with the way it turned out. I was going to put toggles on but then I found these buttons which are seriously cute... you can't really tell from this blurry picture, but they have little skeletonish trees on them. Ok, that sounds creepy... they are not creepy, they are cute and woodsy. Just like my baby will be, heh heh.

And here is that baby with his/her big sister, Greta! I know all you people on Facebook have already seen all my pictures by the time I update my blog. I am sorry about that. But at least this picture is still cute.
I'm headed to a doctors appointment this morning to make sure the baby is still in there and hasn't accidentally fallen out. I know the baby IS still in there because I can see it's little feet jabbing out from my belly as I type this. Last night he was doing those bicycle leg excercises, drumming on me from the inside. It was very, very weird.

Here's Greta from the day of her birthday party:
She had recieved that beautiful dress (which she then wore for four days in a row) and some new rainboots from her godparents. It was perfect that it started raining shortly after the party--she was so excited to go outside in her new rainboots! Isn't she cute? I still kind of can't believe she's three. And I can't believe that this morning I put braids in her hair. How can she be that old already?

And speaking of Greta, she's still nursing.  We've tried some bribes, which she's all for until it actually comes to bedtime and then she decides she doesn't want a chocolate bar, she doesn't want a stuffed purple bunny from Ooma, she doesn't want us to be proud and make a fuss over her.  She just wants to nurse.  And then I give in.  Here's the thing that makes it hard for ME... it's not like Greta's health or well being is endangered by her still nursing.  It's not as if she's drinking Mountain Dew or shooting heroin in order to fall asleep.  Nursing is good for her in many ways, even if she is three years old. And it's certainly not HER fault that a new baby is moving in and taking her place as the youngest and neediest sibling.  It seems a little unfair to make her stop when she's not ready. (Even though if I end up tandum nursing I'm going to drown myself. In breastmilk.) So I'm hopeful that she'll decide one of these days that she does want to stop nursing to sleep and it will be an easy transition for her. I don't want to force her. I'm actually hoping that if I keep asking her and trying to tempt her night after night she'll get so annoyed with me that she'll just decide to start going to bed by herself.

In other news, do you ever feel like your life is just one long WAIT? Sometimes I look at everything ahead of us and I think of how there isn't anything I can do about any of it except wait. Wait, wait, wait. The new baby is just one of these things; I'm desperate to know the gender, for one thing, because I want to knit things in non-neutral colors and buy things like tiny swimsuits and fabric to make quick change trousers and oh-my-goodness, have you SEEN some of the gender specific diaper covers out there?!  It's SO HARD NOT KNOWING!!!! But, what can I do but wait?

Right now Anja has Greta on a leash and is taking her for a "walk." Greta is wearing her "pig fur" (pink leotard) but I think she said she's actually a tiger, and she's walking on her hands and feet with her rumpus up in the air. Connected to the leash.

I have an itch to sew but I don't have any projects I'm dying to make. Suggestions, anyone??