Sunday, August 16, 2015

Of Mice and Men.

Sometime in mid-April, after the flux of company for Abby's baptism had left, I was peacefully brushing my teeth upstairs when Eliza announced, "Mom, there's a snake in our house!" Now, of course I assumed she was either referring to James's wooden snake, or possibly hallucinating. But, I've never been one to pass up a dramatic moment, so I rushed down the stairs only to find that she was correct. There, up against the base of the window, was a small garter snake. I was anxious to see where it had come from, so I tried to get it to retrace its tracks. But it just slithered this way and that, clearly not interested in going back out. I was left with no choice but to pick it up and hurl it across the lawn. Not 3 hours later a smaller, baby version of that same snake was in our house. This time I decided it would be best if we started trapping these snakes and relocating them down the road. (All the while considering that since they eat mice and moths, maybe they could stay? Is that crazy that I'd rather snakes in the house than moths?) So the baby snake sat in a small bucket, awaiting it's destiny. The girls grew fond of it, named it, and fed it grass and twigs from outside.

That evening a lady from church came over to have Reid help her with taxes. She is a sweet lady who has many struggles, disabilities and fears. While they were at the table I picked up our dust mop only to find a third snake, nesting happily in all the treasures that I hadn't properly swept up earlier that day. This sweet lady started truly hyperventilating. And since Reid was there, I figured I'd let him, as the man of the house, grab and deal with the snake, while I tried to calm her down and tell her that this is normal, in fact it's the third snake we'd had in our house just today! That oughtta do the trick.

To Reid, I calmly whispered, "It might be the baby's mom. Don't throw it outside, put it in the bucket with the baby." Well, I now know that Reid is not the go-to person in the family for snake disposal. He freaked out more than the lady at the table, and completely disregarded my instructions. He threw it outside. I then quietly questioned him, "why didn't you just put it in the bucket?" to which he replied "I don't know. I panicked!" And somehow, in the moments that followed, that panic resulted in him taking the trapped baby snake out of the bucket, throwing him on the walkway out front and chopping its head off with a shovel. Again, I emphasize that Reid, who handles many stressful situations very well, is apparently not a serpentine guy. I did not understand this at the time, however, and just watched the beheading with my jaw dropped. "The girls are going to ask about the baby snake in the morning, what are you going to tell them?" He responded, "I'll just tell them I let it go. The chickens will probably eat it anyway."

As expected, the next morning was filled with questions about the whereabouts of the trapped snake. Reid told his rehearsed white (and red, and scaly) lie, and all was well.

Until Grace found it's head out in the pasture, just a few feet from it's body. The chickens had failed us.  I guess they didn't trust the snake in the grass.

Grace burst through the door in tears, asking why Dad had lied to her. She vowed never to speak to him again. And by golly, she kept that vow for three whole days. Three days of not talking to one's father is no small feat. But she was determined to teach him a lesson--You don't kill baby snakes, and you don't lie to your kids about killing baby snakes.

Reid apologized profusely, admitted that he should've handled the situation differently, and after three days they were back on speaking terms.

We only caught two more snakes in our house over the next days that followed, and haven't seen any inside since. They say that garter snakes aren't bad to have around the house.  They help home-gardeners with rodents and pests, and tend to keep the rattlers away,  We don't have any cats, so we depend on these snakes for controlling the mice population.

Which is maybe a mistake.

The Sunday after the snake-beheading incident, we were sitting peacefully in church, when Eliza, the same child who spotted the snake, shout-whispered in her loudest church-voice, "Mom, there's a rat in our bag!" And sure enough, perched atop all of our quiet books and church magazines and bags of stale fishy crackers, there was a small little mouse, looking up at us with a hint of panic in her eyes.  Hoping that Reid's disdain for snakes didn't carry over to all vermin, i quickly scooted the bag down the row to him, informed him that we'd brought a live mouse to church, and sent him out to deal with it.  Looking back, I now wish I'd have said "Are you a man or a mouse?" but wit is never my strong point in moments of crisis.  While awaiting his return, we stifled our giggles and tears of shame and after 5 long minutes he returned.  Getting the mouse out of the bag hadn't been too hard, but keeping the mouse from running back into the church was quite the battle.  One that several other ward members witnessed.  That's not embarrassing at all.

Silly mouse, just make a new nest here at the church entryway.  Every church needs a good mouse for the children to look to as an example of volume control, lest the old expression lose it's meaning altogether! Why are you trying to get back inside?

The next day, as I cleaned out the bag, I discovered why.  You see, she already had made a nest.  Inside of our church bag.  And there, at the bottom of it, was a mostly-dead tiny baby mouse.  I mean, it wasn't moving, but when I poked it with a pencil it squeaked.  What do you do with a mostly-dead anything?? I tried to get my dog to eat it, and she wouldn't. I considered just throwing it in the garbage, which is probably what any sane person would do.  And then I remember the chickens! Besides the snake, I've never seen them pass anything up! So i scooped up it's mostly-lifeless body with a coloring book and walked it over to the chicken coop.  I didn't watch to see what happened, but when I came back later, it was gone.  And my first thought was, "Well that oughtta save a little on feed."  

And that's the moment I realized just how crazy this all is.  Our life here.  What it's done to me.  What it's done to all of us.  We're all completely off our rockers.  The kids are naming vermin, Reid's killing vermin with his hands, I'm feeding vermin to slightly larger egg-laying vermin.  We're all completely cuckoo.

And the thing is? We love it.  We all love it here.  The kids are thriving, we are working hard, learning things we never thought we'd need to know, and growing as a family. And we really couldn't be happier.    Reid and I comment on a pretty regular basis just how charmed and wonderful and blessed this little life of ours is.  

And if it comes with snakes in the house, a church-bag with a mouse, and a slightly crazy spouse, we'll take it.  

Friday, August 14, 2015

Abby's baptism

Abby has defiantly disobeyed her mother, and gone and turned eight. In fact, she did it eight months ago.  I was so upset about it, that i'm just now able to blog about it. (yes, let's say that that's why i haven't journaled this until now...)  She could have been baptized just a few weeks after her birthday, but agreed that it'd be better if we waited a few months for the weather to be nicer and for extended family to come during Spring Break.  And in those months a small miracle happened--Reid's sister, Alisa, and her family moved here to their new house they just built!!!  We have been wanting family here for 9 years, and having them here has been so great.  Their son, Christopher, also turned eight, and so these cute cousins got to share their baptism day together.
The whole day was wonderful. Which works out well since Abby herself is nothing shy of pretty fantastic herself. Grandma and Grandpa Allred made it just in time for the baptism. They literally pulled into town just 30 mins before it started. Tom and Jana drove all the way from Boise with their kids, including their almost 2 year old twins. That meant a lot to Abby. No one from the Ashworth side was able to come for it (which honestly worked out really well, since where would they have stayed??) and Abby was more upset by that than i would have thought. It helped that they all sent her some congratulatory video messages on her big day. And it also helped that so many Allreds were here for it!!

Abby had a wonderful showing of friends--friends from our old ward, Northridge, friends from our new ward, Grandview, and several non-LDS friends from school, including her teacher Miss Blagoue. Our former neighbors and dearly missed friends Hannah, Brooke and Marcus, and RaeLouise and Steve came. And our current neighbors Mark and Musetta came, as well. The room was full. And Abby was thrilled about it.

Grandpa Allred gave a wonderful talk on baptism. He shared a story of two boys putting silver dollars in a poor man's boots. Mid-talk little Norah, came up to him, so he scooped her up and held her. Then little Asher came up and he scooped him up with the other arm, all while giving his talk. It was just so sweet! And all the Allred grandkids sang "Jesus Came to John the Baptist." I played the piano so I could only see the smiles on everyone's faces. I was later told that Winnie and Kate were both leading the music while they were all singing, cute girls. My sweet Abby was baptised first, by her wonderfully amazing dad. She was nervous, but mostly excited. They had practiced many, many times here at home. In fact, all the kids had practiced--because it looked so fun. The water was a bit shallow that day, but, like most things that get thrown at her, she just dealt with it, no complaints.
Abby's dress has a long story behind it, which is neither interesting nor sentimental. But Abby saw it and loved it. I made a few alterations (cut off the wrist-length, lace-cuffed sleeves, removed some other excessive lace, etc) according to Abby's wishes, and it turned out just adorable on her. Abby had gone shopping with Aunt JuJu a couple weeks earlier when Julia was here for a visit, and got her very own headband and her very own nailpolish. So her nails were a light green and she put her headband on as soon as she was all dried off and dressed. She was so cute and methodical and organized about the whole thing--it was clear that she'd put lots of thinking and planning into how this all would go, and didn't want to miss a single detail.

I'm so proud of this little girl. She still feels like my little girl, but she is growing up. Dangit! She is thriving at school. She just announced that she is the only one in her class that is reading at a 6th grade level. She pretends that she doesn't like the challenging work she has to do, or the advanced testing required of her. But it's pretty obvious that she does. She got her dad's brains and her mom's humility. It makes for an interesting combination,

She's still a wonderful peacemaker at home. When James is being difficult (which is more and more every day) she is the first to patiently show him a way to calm down. She's taking piano and guitar lessons, and if she's in a good mood she really enjoys practicing both. She's onto yet another wonderful soccer season. I wasn't going to sign her up, but the coach forced begged me to bring her back. He says that his team needs her. She's really good with rules, and soccer has a lot of rules. She's also good at helping those on the field remember where they're supposed to be, etc. (She get's her bossiness from her mom, as well) Coach says it's fine if she only comes to one practice a week. That sounds doable, even to me.

It's rare that I get frustrated with Abby. But on the occasion that I do, it almost always has to do with her absent-mindedness. That girl misplaces and loses everything! It's almost funny. Almost. Except when she's about to miss the bus and can't find the assignment that was JUST in her hands and is due today! Times like that can be quite frustrating. I've started charging her $.50 everytime I find something that she's misplaced. I'm not sure it's helping her at all, but at least I'm earning something for all my hard work.

She and Grace were asking me the other day to tell them stories of when they were little. I had some good stories of naughty things that Grace had done. But I couldn't think of a single time when Abby had been naughty! It just wasn't, and isn't, in her blood to purposely hurt or disobey others. She's not perfect--she is emotional, overly sensitive, and absent-minded. But when it comes to making good choices--she's who I often find myself looking to for an example.

I'm happy that she chose to be baptized. Of course, to some extent, it was expected of her, and she probably knew that. But we tried to help her really understand that this was a choice that she was making. And that she could decide when and if to do it. I'm proud of her for choosing to follow Jesus's example. She understands and strives to keep God's commandments. She is a light in our home, and I feel pretty lucky that I'm the one that gets to raise her--or watch her raise herself.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Just some thoughts

James says the word "tomato" panato (puh-na-to) and i don't ever want it to stop. He also says his 'v's with a 'w' which means that we watch Weggie Tales, his best friend's name is Wincenzo, and he isn't allowed to touch the wiolin. I took him in to Child Find, to see if perhaps he'd qualify for services (i.e. free preschool) and he didn't. Which is good for me--I can keep encouraging his wocabulary to dewelop the way I want it to.

Abby stayed home sick a few weeks ago with some nasty cough that would not go away. She was supposed to finish her book report, but got distracted doing anything else that wasn't her book report. She prepared a wonderful Family Night lesson. She cleaned her entire room. She read some books, played with James, and didn't watch any TV. I should have her work on her book report more often.

A month ago Grace decided she really truly wants her ears pierced. So much so that she was willing to actually DO the chores on her chore chart for 4 straight weeks. Four weeks felt too far away, so she offered to clean the entire house if I'd bring it down to 3. And since I don't believe in child labor...but am no fool either, I got a shiny clean house. The chore thing only lasted 10 days, however, and she has since decided that she doesn't want her ears pierced.  She had a wonderful time at High Trails, her 4th grade three-day camp. After so many months of agonizing over it, I'm proud of her for deciding to do. She's still telling me things she learned while there. The house was quiet with her gone. No fighting. But not as much laughing, either.

Eliza was beside herself with Grace gone. She refused to enjoy those three days. She literally protested playing with friends at school and enjoying herself at home. She loves her big sisters. Eliza is reading pretty well. Everyone but her is aware of this fact. If you ask her, she'll tell you that she can't read. She'll probably yell it, actually. But if you DON'T ask her to read something, she'll read it just fine. She and James have been at each others throats the past few weeks. it's been aggravating, to say the least.  It took too long before i realized that I hadn't reached into my bag of bribery tricks!  "If you and james can get along for ___minutes I'll let you watch a show." Workin' like a charm, that trick is.

Reid, who is always awesome, and makes me pretty much the happiest woman alive, was super dad on Mother's Day. I slept in, woke up to pancakes and farm-fresh eggs and OJ. He got the kids ready for church, didn't pressure me when it was clear that I was the one keeping us all from getting there on time, and didn't get too mad when I drove by him at the bottom of the slushy/snowy driveway and splattered mud all over him. He let me play the piano all afternoon while he got dinner ready. I played all the songs that I'd heard my mom play a gazillion times. I snuck out of our church and went to my old ward to hear a friend speak. I thought I was going to support her (since her dad had passed away just 2 days earlier) but quickly realized that it was MY soul that needed to be there that day. Without even talking with most people there, i felt reconnected, and kinda like i was back in my home ward with the people who, five years ago, supported me and loved me through such a hard time.

My brother Jared graduated with his PhD last month. Which makes me feel old. And makes him pretty freaking awesome. Dad and Nathan were there for it, which is so wonderful. Cynthia's suffering more pain than she should. I called her Dr. last week to yell at them about changing her prescription. I'm not entirely sure it worked, but it felt good to yell at someone about her situation. Julia and I are going out there next month.

I'm feeling more and more settled here in this house. I bought my spinning wheel. And every time I admit that I age three decades. The sheep are coming in a few weeks. We're not exactly ready for them, but getting there. We've got 16 teenage chickens in the small coop (which is better than the sunroom--they were stinking up the house.) And 14 old hens in the coop, missing feathers and free-loading (giving about 7 eggs/day). So, we're trying to figure out how to swap out the old with the new and not completely devastate Grace, who loves those old hens more than her siblings.

School got out on Tuesday, and we took off Wednesday morning for a 4-day vacation up to Estes Park with Reid's family. We hiked, we played, we puzzled, we fished, we relaxed and pigged out.  It was a perfect start to what will hopefully be a perfect summer.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dream house--a fairytale come true?

Life is good.  Really, really good.  We are really happy, and our kids are really happy.  And often, when life is good I don’t sit down and write about it.  I should, of course.  But I don’t need it as an outlet, so it gets put off.   But that doesn’t explain why I didn’t write more during the first few months of owning our current house.  I surely needed an outlet then! I guess I just drowned myself in rice krispy treats and took out my anger on Reid...and anyone who dared ask “how’s the house?”

So, how is the house, you might ask.  There’s a long and a short answer to that question.  The short one is: it is full of character and charm, it’s been more work than we’d anticipated, but it keeps us together and warm.  We’re enjoying the space, and LOVE having a more rural life, especially the chickens, the dog and the upcoming sheep!  

The long answer?  Well, here it is:

Once upon a time, in the royal suburbs of Highlands Ranch, there lived a wife and mother of 4 who, with the loving support of her knight in shining 2-piece suits, decided to buy a farmhouse in the country. While packing all of her family’s belongings, she injured her lower back.  This happened just days before the purchase was complete--really unfortunate timing.  Understandably upset by this set back, she resigned to the fact that she needed help. She reluctantly welcomed volunteer maidens from her village into her home to help with final packing and cleaning. Though extremely embarassed that her secret hoarder's stashes were now seen by all, she was more overcome by gratitude, love and appreciation, making it that much harder to leave this village she'd come to love so dearly.

Confident that healing would progress quickly in the fresh country air she looked forward to the moment when the last walls would be painted, the last carpet piece nailed down, the attic fan installed, the countertops (generously donated by her royal father!!) in place, and her family would move in to their dream home.  For then, the rest and relaxation could begin. 

Little did she know that the farmhouse they’d purchased was actually hiding secrets. Very bad secrets.  Such as a completely rotted subfloor, which had been hidden by the bright turquoise carpet.   What a dirty secret to hide!  (The image of her husband standing, waist deep inside of her floor, was too much to bear.  Hadn't Tom Hanks found himself in the floor, too? She simply had to take a photo and share it in this eact moment.)

The swamp coolers, which had been covered with snow at the time of inspection, turned out to be older than the house (which the plumber found to be interesting and impressive) and were spewing rusty and otherwise hazardous materials in the house.  Another dirty secret!

The lovely and charming spiral staircase, which had been such a draw to the farmhouse in the first place, is literally falling to pieces.  That is to say that pieces are literally falling off of it, and it has been deemed “unfit for use until repaired.” This is perhaps the dirtiest secret of all. (And has yet to be taken care of.)

The cabinets, though beautiful, hand-crafted by the previous owner, and all made from one cherry tree(!!) were also falling apart.  The hinges were all broken, and so were some of the actual doors. The tops of the base cabinets were even, which made the countertop installers very unhappy.  Many hours of repairs went into the cabinets.  And many, many, many hours of restaining.  

The beautiful French doors which lead from the sunroom to the gardens have an oversized gap between them which is tragically large enough for any and all moths to fit through.  Whilst this poor mother and wife was dealing with more house- worry and house-stress and house-remorse than her back and soul could bear, her farmhouse became an sanctuary for moths every night at sunset.  Her knight in shining armour, who was equally as exhausted by all the tedious work being put into the farmhouse (e.g. applying weather stripping to all the doors, repairing hinges, replacing every single grimy old outlet and switch) possesses an unfortunately high tolerance for moths.  And so she was left to take care of the situation on her own.  From approximately 9pm-11pm, every night for the first 4 weeks in the farmhouse you could find her with two flyswatters in one hand and her shopvac in the other.  And a disturbing expression of horror and glee across her face.  Happy was the day the weather changed and the moths migrated to the west.  

This is about 1% of the moths killed

Heading west doesn't seem like a bad idea
The first, second and third washing machines she purchased for the farmhouse had vastly different, though equally as major defects.  So intense was her frustration that she considered hand washing all her clothes, and hanging them to dry on her not-yet-existent clothesline. But then remembered that she hates cleaning.   Luckily, the fourth time was the charm. Or maybe it was the colorful language she used with Customer Service. At last she has a magical machine that does in one load what her previous machine could do in three. 

All of this was enough to make this mother and wife question herself intensely.  Had she allowed her selfish desires of country-living to cloud her vision such that now her entire family would suffer a long and miserable life in a run-down farmhouse, with a disgruntled father and a permanently crabby mother? Was this all a mistake?  It had felt so right, but was it?  Should they have just stayed in the suburbs and lived a normal life?  Why was everything going wrong??!?! 

These questions weighed heavily on her mind for the first two months in the home. 

And then they arrived.  The first of many farm miracles.  Without any efforts or battles or debating or deciding, they just showed up on the property one Saturday morning, coop and all.  Nineteen beautiful feathered multi-colored egg-laying pieces of paleo manna from heaven.  

The story of why they were given to this little family isn't as interesting as the timing and effortlessness of their arrival. This mother and wife was at the end of her twine, ready to call uncle,  hang a white flag over her head and move to a condo.  And believe it or not, those chickens saved her!  Watching her kids feed them corn, pick out their names, (which was a terrible idea, by the way) and bring in the first eggs reminded her of her why they'd come here in the first place. Their money pit fixer-upper had tried to quash her dreams, but they were alive.  She was alive!    

The day those hens showed up was the first best day of Life at the Farmhouse.

And they are all living happily every after. (The family that is, not the chickens. Three of them became dinner.)

The End Beginning.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Nothing Else To Do But Blog: Take 2

I don’t know what it is about sketchy motels in the middle of WY that inspire me to blog. I could pretty much copy and paste my first paragraph from last Januray right here.  Only this time I have just Grace and Abby.  And they’re not even pretending to sleep.  Grace is standing outside the door cause the heater is set to Death Valley, and Abby is complaining about how tired she is, but keeps asking questions like, “So, if this motel doesn’t even have continental breakfast, are we just going to starve to death?”  At least neither is being too dramatic.

We’re on our way back from my bff’s dad’s funeral.  Carrie’s dad was flying his plane when it crashed last weekend.  Carrie’s dad was an inspiration in so many ways, and hearing more about him made me want to be better at living life.  I only got to spend a few hours with Carrie. I hated leaving, knowing that the hardest is yet to come.  I’ll never forget the low I hit in those days after my mom’s funeral when the constant flow of calls and prayers had stopped and real life had the nerve to try to return.   Carrie and I were talking about how different our experiences were from each other, and agreed that trying to decide which is better is as futile as trying to choose which one of your children to rescue from a sinking boat.  In both cases a permanent hole is made in your heart, one that fortunately gets smaller over time, but never goes away.

My girls enjoyed their “big girl” trip, and loved all the attention they got from family.  Grandpa made Abby a birthday cake (cause she’s 8. Yeah.  How’d that happen??).  And when he wasn’t telling them stories, riddles and jokes, and teaching them songs like Bill Grogan’s Goat, they spent their time exploring all the nooks and crannies of his house, the likes of which can only be found in long-inhabited homes.

While I miss Reid, Eliza and James, I'll admit that it’s been nice to have a little break from our new house.  We’ve been living there for nearly 8 months now.  Would it be too dramatic to say that it’s been the best of times and the worst of times? Probably. We absolutely love where we are--the land, the neighbors, the town, the school, the ward, the views (seriously, the views!) the rural feel, the SuperTarget around the corner, the view of the stars, the neighbor’s horses and donkey, the space, our very own backyard bridle trail, the everything about the location.

The house? Not quite as dreamy. While there are still countless things we love about it, it's kinda falling apart.  But that's another story.  In fact, that’s probably 15-20 other stories.  Loooong, bad, stories.  I’ll blog them when I feel like bringing myself down. 

Tonight I wanna write about the dreams that I’ve had for years that are coming true.  Like the one about raising some livestock.  We’d been planning on goats all this time, but after much debate and discussion, most of which centered on fencing, we’ve decided to go with sheep.  There are three reasons to keep sheep—for dairy, for fiber (wool) and for meat.  Most are only used for one thing.  But there is a breed that has been used for all three, and you better believe that’s the one I want—Icelandic Sheep. They’re hardy, they birth well, they’re resitstant to parasites and disease, and they’re gorgeous.  We have 3 lambs on hold for us in southern Colorado that will be born this spring, but we’re getting antsy and want them now! Which is why we actually just visited a farm outside of Park City that has Icelandic Sheep.  The farmers are basically giving them away.  And I was sure we’d take a couple.  But sadly those sheep did not like us.  The ewes were skittish and wanted nothing to do with us.  And the rams were absolutely crazy.  I have never, in my entire life, ever seen anything or anyone or any creature actually bounce off a wall.  But when Grace and I entered their pen, the sheep started charging and romping and literally bouncing off the walls.  The lady told us that they rarely get to see people.  Reallllly. I never would have guessed.  So, we're back to waiting a few months for the lambs, and we’ll see to it that those little lambs are around people a lot.  (I have a feeling that won't be a problem.)

In August we were given a whole brood of chickens, along with their coop.  We’ve got 15 hens, and one feisty rooster (feisty is quaint for “we all hate him and want him dead but need him in order to have baby chicks”).  We love the ladies, though. And I now know for myself that there really is nothing like a fresh egg.  We get about 8-10/day, which is more than we need (and not as many as we should from that many hens).  Reid and I and the kids still get excited about how many eggs we get, which ones are still warm, and how they can vary so greatly in size from day to day. Often we give the extras away, but recently we got our first client. Grace has been hired as the egg-cleaner/sorter and is in charge of putting the carton in the newspaper box when she goes to catch the bus in the morning, where our client can pick them up.  We haven’t decided how much of the proceeds she’ll get to keep.  From Day One she has been a great help with the chickens, filling their water, giving them scraps, cleaning up their poop (which is substantial), refilling their food buckets and nesting boxes, and of course, getting the eggs.  So we’ll probably just let her keep it all. And then make her pay for her own groceries.  

Tomorrow, on our way home, we’re going to get our egg incubator in Laramie, WY.  This little device will do what our hens have been bred not to—warm and turn the eggs till baby chicks pop out!  We’ll probably start the first batch of eggs in about 3 weeks.  The kids are, of course, ecstatic about this.  They do know that 50% of them will be roosters, and that there’s only one thing to do with roosters.  Grace, who is extremely opposed to killing any of our animals, seems to be coming to terms with this and knows that they'll become somebody’s meal.  Maybe not ours.  Or maybe so.  We’ll cross that road when the chicken does.

In the past few months, amidst all the wonderful things that have been happening, I’ve found myself griping and complaining excessively about all the work that this place requires of us.  Not so much about the land/animals—that’s still fun and new.  Working on the house however, is aggravating, stressful, and expensive.  I spend much of my time whining about it.   But I was reminded at the funeral that our life’s stories usually come as a result of hard work. So I’m resolved to stop putting so much energy into avoiding it and a little more into enjoying it.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

This is really happening

With much help from many helpful hands we got our house beautified and on the market on April 4th.  Real estate in Denver is pretty hot right now, so we probably didn't have to do as much as we did, but I kinda liked the mindlessness of painting the baseboards, Reid rocked the bathroom remodel, and we all LOVED putting all of the "stuff we don't need" (aka "crap!") into a storage unit.  It made our house feel so spacious!  Reid and I had calculated that we'd need a 5x5 storage unit, but followed the counsel of a friend who said to get more than you think you'll need.  So we went to sign up for the 5x10.  But they were running a special and the 10x10 was actually the cheaper option.  And i'm ashamed, embarrassed, and mortified to admit that we nearly couldn't close the door on that unit when we shoved the last items in!!  You have to understand.  I am a non-practicing minimalist.  So I take great offense to my own hoarding habits.  And honestly, if it weren't for the fact that these are in said unit ...

...I'd probably take a match the whole thing!

(no, i didn't put my kids in there.  Though that would have kept the house MUCH cleaner! I mean the precious Christmas stockings that i hand cross-stitched and show off at every chance i get.  Like this one.)

My mother-in-law came the week before our house went on the market, and she was so extremely helpful i have NO idea what i'd have done without her here.  She read endless books to and played endless games with my littlest ones.  Not to mention all the cleaning and organizing she did!  I really can't imagine a more helpful person to have come to visit at a more helpful time.  Everyone should have a Marie come help get their house ready to sell!

And of course, all the credit for the decor and beauty of my house goes to my friend Gina.  She had already beautified my front room a few years ago, but the rest of the rooms were a little lack-luster.  She brought a van full of flowers, pillows, throw blankets, curtains, art, towels, etc and gave my house an extreme make-over.

As usual, i forgot to take many "before" pictures.  I did snap a few of the kids' room.  These give you an idea of A) how we managed to fit four kids in one room (can u see James' pack-n-play under Grace's loft bed?)

and B) how insanely messy it often was. Do these kids not have any parents???

 And here's the AFTER:

 Here's our Master Bedroom

 the Family Bathroom (Can i just say here how excited I am that our new house has a bathroom just for the kids???)
The Guest Bathroom

I'm going to miss this awesome faucet!
Guest Room (previously known as Reid's office)

 Guest Room/Craft Room

 The Basement

And here is that stage that I believe i promised photos of quite a while ago!  Behind the curtains there's a rod with dress-ups hanging on it, bins with props and hats and shoes, our water shut-off valve, our sprinkler shut off, and the wizard of oz.
 I loved loved LOVED these shelves.  They were a breeze to make, and were quite simply the BEST way to organize my piano music.

The kitchen was ridiculously impossible to live in.  We had to hide our broom, garbage can, dish drainer, dish towels, and everything else we actually use in the kitchen.

The entire house felt more like a museum than a home.  My kids couldn't eat, play, sit or breathe without me yelling at them. I wasn't sure how many days I could possibly live like this, which is why I was so grateful that we went under contract in less than 36 hours!  We had 35 showings in two days, with 6 offers, all at or above our asking price.  That is INSANE!!!  But the market here is crazy.  People all over the country are realizing that it's the best place on earth and flocking here by the thousands!  It is a great time to sell. (not a great time to buy...but that's not what this post is about)

I was surprised at how emotional we all were when it came time to actually accept an offer and sign a contract.  The girls and I were in body-shaking face-wrinkling tears about the whole thing.  The reality that we'd actually be leaving this home that we have loved so much, and the people here who we love so much was such a hard reality to accept.  I truly wanted to just back out, lose our earnest money on the new home, and stay here.  I mean, look at this house now--it's beautiful!  Why wouldn't I want to stay here??

Luckily Reid was coherent enough to ignore me completely and sign our life away.  That really is what it felt like.  Not only have my kids done all of their growing-up in this house, but i really feel like I've grown up in this house.  I've gone through major identity crises, I've loved and lost significant people, I've brought children into this world and, quite frankly, come close to taking them out.  Within the walls of this home are most of the greatest (and hardest) memories of my adult life.  And I am so, so sad to leave.  In our neighborhood are some of the greatest friends and neighbors known to mankind.  At our schools are caring, loving teachers who adore my children.  At church we're surrounded by amazing people, peers and mentors.  

Why in the world are we even moving??? That's what I've asked myself about a hundred thousand times in past few months.  

It's only when I talk to my friends who are on the tail-end of child-raising that I feel more confidence in our choice.  And when I think about our little hobby farm and orchard and gardens.  And when I imagine my kids getting bigger (which I am in real denial about), enjoying the bigger spaces to spread out and invite friends over.  I do think this is the right and best move for our family.  But i'm sure glad that there were contracts and deposits involved, otherwise I'd have backed right out. A hundred thousand times.