Thursday, June 30, 2011

#3 -- MOVE

So, remember those pesky 2011 "Goals" I made?  In case you forgot, they are over there on the right side of the constantly remind me of the things I need to be working on.  And I am working on them, truly.  I just don't update you guys all that regularly on them because I didn't think they were interesting you.  If I am wrong, correct me now..

Anyhow, back to #3.  How ambiguous, right?  Well, I can't be super crystal clear, but we knew that  -- one way or the other -- we wanted to move this year.  And as things started to fall into their places, we realized that moving meant 'upgrading' and staying in the same city and just getting a larger house.  That's cool.  That was in our plan anyways.

So, we spend most of the spring prepping the house.  We had prepped a bit last year because we actually made an offer on a house up the street from us when I was 8.5 months preggo with Sam (yeah, we ARE that crazy).  That fell through only because someone slipped in with a cash offer which knocked us right off the table.  We still are a little bit bitter about that one...we still ogle the house every time we drive by it (pretty much every morning, LOL).  But, it just wasn't meant to be.

And it wasn't...because we got a LOT more done on our house afterwards...and I am convinced that if we had tried to sell last year, we would've had a really REALLY hard time doing so.

After all the hard work, our house officially listed at 11:00 am on Tuesday, June 28th.  Pictures were uploaded to the listing by 8pm that same night.  We scheduled an open house for Sunday -- even with the holiday weekend.

Tuesday night I made this:

I thought it added a nice festive and welcoming touch to the front door.

Wednesday, I got a phone call from our realtor that someone wanted to go through our house already!  Great, I said...when?  "Tonight" he replied.  WHAT?  WHAT?  WHAT?  "at 4pm"  IT WAS 2:30 at that time.  I hadn't left the house 'showing ready' that morning -- who would do that 24 hours after listing...with two small kids and a dog and a cat?  I gulped back all the fear in my throat and replied "Ok, I'll make it work".

I then RUSHED out the door of work (thank you to my understanding boss and co-workers).

As I raced up our street, I saw this:

I seriously almost starting crying.  I mean, I know this is my CHOICE and everything...but there are SO MANY memories in this house!  This is my FIRST house (bought independently), where I got engaged, where I got pregnant two times, where I went into labor (if you don't count target officially for Sam's labor).  Lots of good memories here.  I know our NEXT house will have plenty of good memories also, and I am ready to leave here, but I will miss it.  We put so MUCH work into this house...and it shows, it really truly does.

Anyways, I brushed the tears away and did the fastest cleaning of my house I've EVER done...45 mins.  I was DRENCHED in sweat.  But I got the dog in my car, the cat zipped up in a duffel bag, and raced out the door at 3:57 down to the park at the end of the street (another HUGE perk of this house...its proximity to kid friendly outlets...LOVE).  We sat there until my parents picked up the boys for their swim lessons, and while we were sitting there FOUR more showing for Thursday and Friday got scheduled!  Crazy!

So, with the forewarning for the showings on Thursday, we planned ahead.  The house was ready when we left for work, I prebaked cookies to put out, and so all I had to do was rush home, do a quick once over, grab the animals and put out the cookies:

We were kind of sneaky and just stayed at the next door neighbors tonight for dinner and swimming (and of course spying).  There were only 5 cookies left at the end of the night.....

Here's little Max giving Shiloh a hug -- she's in that canvas duffle bag.  She was on a leash and after she explored the deck, she decided she felt safer in the bag, so she crawled back in there...

I can tell you this.  It is freaking WEIRD to watch other people walking through your house.  Knowing they are seeing YOUR STUFF, and you aren't there.  You know they are talking about YOUR HOUSE, YOUR STUFF, and you can't hear them!  We actually considered grabbing the baby monitor and seeing if we could eavesdrop on the people...but that just didn't feel right.  A part of me got really sad again watching people go through our house....I know that it will make someone else really happy after us.  I kind of hope that it finds another young family to nourish and coddle.  This house likes babies.

And, after 4 showings, we've heard only positive feedback...

Including some hints at an offer possibly coming in already...

Holy cow.  Am I ready for the SOLD sign yet?  I guess If I'm not, I had better GET READY.

I'll keep you posted

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sam's 1 Year - CAKE SMASH!

I can't BELIEVE I forgot to post these pictures of the Sam man's 1 year photo shoot cake smash!  How adorable is he??  Shannon (of Shannon Wucherer Photography...go USE her) did the photos, and she did a fantastic job again!  She totally ROCKS!!

Oh, that beautiful HOMEMADE cake with BUTTERCREAM frosting was annihilated at Sam's hands (and feet).  LOL.  So glad I could make something HOMEMADE and delicious for my little one's first real taste of sweets!  Just proves he definitely takes after mommy with the sweet tooth!  :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

House Pictures Before and After: the Extension

When I bought this house in 2002, I remember my mother shaking her head.

I started dating Max shortly after the purchase (or right around the time I purchased it) and I remember him shaking his head and thinking I was crazy.

I kinda thought so too.

I can't tell you enough of the horror stories on how this house looked when I bought it, but here are a few highlights:

-linoleum in the kitchen that was worn so thin you could see the subfloor through it
- so many mouse turds in the kitchen cabinets that it looked like someone had spilled a bag of thistle seed
- dark brown paint EVERYWHERE -- and occasional spots of primer randomly rolled over it
- carpet that was really off-white, but looked brown

The list could go on and on.  But, we all know that a picture is worth a thousand words, so let me introduce you to the "Extension" in 2002:

Lovely z-brick walls.  That is a shelf for a wood burning stove back there (they took the stove with them).  No heat.  A brick "mantle" covering only half of the floor.  Paneling...oodles of panelling...painted white.  Pretty, no?

But, I was living there alone (I did finally get a roommate), living on a very VERY small (non-profit) salary, and only having limited time and funds to work on fixing the house.  Priorities were there.  Did I mention there was no heat in this room?  And that the windows were basically so crappy that you could feel air coming through them?  My first year there, I nailed an old comforter up to the door frame to keep the drafts from coming out into the main house.  Seriously. 

When Max moved to WI, he helped tackle this room.  We gutted the walls to the studs and replaced the panelling with drywall.  We insulated the HECK out of the room...surprisingly they hadn't done this!  Crazy.  So, here it is looking a little better...the floors were in pretty bad condition, and we knew we needed to get those refinished -- and we needed to replace the windows. 

It is a really LONG room, and therefore difficult to place furniture in.  As you can see from this lovely photo, I used it mainly as a workout room and catch all for lots of junk...

But, hard work paid off!  We got the floors refinished, the windows replaced and furniture arranged.  Thanks to my awesome realtor, I also got a hold of the photos they will be using for our listing (which goes up tomorrow...yikes!), so enjoy the professional shots of the room today.  Not bad, eh?

We really enjoy this room now!  Almost makes it hard to leave....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Little Max - an aspiring photographer

Last Friday at home, I was taking some pictures and watched little Max watching me with curiosity.  I knew that our old point and shoot was just sitting in the desk drawer, and I had been contemplating it for a few months since I had read my friend's blog post on her doing something very similar a year or so I decided to just go for it.

I explained to him how the camera worked, told him he had to keep the strap around his wrist at all times, and set him loose...

Oh, MAN!  He was ECSTATIC!!!  After EVERY single picture he took, he rushed over to me and showed it to me by pushing the 'preview' button (he figured out that camera probably faster than WE had, back in the day!!)

I won't bore you with the gazillion pictures he took of the TV (and the embarrassing show that was playing).  I'm only including some of the ones I consider 'better'.  It sure was interesting going back through the 134 pictures he has taken since last Friday and seeing the world through his eyes -- the little ins and outs he felt were photo worthy.  It was pretty awesome, actually. 

But enough from me, enjoy the world from the eyes of a 3.5 year old:

Sam, cruising along the windows in the sunroom...

 Mommy...yes, I am still in my pajamas....

Self-portrait (I am amazed that he got himself pretty much centered in this one...the blurriness would be expected...) 

 Sam doing magic tricks with his sippy cup...actually, come to think of it, Max did something similar when he was right around this age:


 Flowers in the backyard...

 Mason, 'brushing his teeth' as Max likes to say when Mason chews on sticks...

 The backyard...

 Blue Blankie...he took several pictures of his lovey....again, goes to show what he feels is photo worthy...


 Taken from his spot in the double jogger when we were out for a jog last week...

 Toothbrushes and cup in the bathroom...

The Sammers....with lots of drool and snot because he is busy cutting more teeth.  He finally got his THIRD tooth...his top left tooth!  Both of the boys have gotten their teeth "late" (or later than most other kids), but Sam actually got his first two bottom teeth earlier than Max got his first we were surprised when more didn't immediately follow.  Maybe they'll all be popping out in the next few weeks!  Only time will tell.

What do you think?  I am pretty impressed with little Max's camera skills!  Especially for only having access to the camera for one week!  We've told him that he can 'keep' the camera as long as he treats it stay posted for more "art" from him in the future!  :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Father's Day

I am lucky and blessed to have three wonderful men in my life who really know what it means to be a Father -- the sacrifices, the joys, the pains, and the elation that comes along with that role.

I admire my Father in law for taking steps to make sure that he can be the best Father and Grandfather that he can be.  He is a truly wonderful man who has so much to give this earth.  He has a gentle nature about him and a smile that is truly contagious (and I see it in both of my boys).

I admire my Father for influencing me and helping mold me into the woman I am today.  Through encouraging words, persistent reminders and loving nudges.  I may not have always appreciated these things at the time, but looking back I know that everything he did was done in love.

Including this: 

Who says Dads can't take part in babywearing, or having cool sideburns and sunglasses?

And, I admire my husband who has fallen into the role of Daddy so seamlessly.  Sure, there are times we both want to pull our hair out or when we lose our temper.  We're only human, after all.  But, watching this man interact with his sons puts a serious squeeze on my heart.  I fell in love with him years ago as my husband, and I find myself falling in love with him over and over as I watch him being a Father.  What a remarkable thing to witness!!!

As a tribute to Daddy, we made this:

Both of the boys really enjoyed squishing their hands in paint and making the handprints.  What boy wouldn't?

I tried to interview little Max to ask him a bunch of questions about Daddy, but he was too distracted to sit I won't bore you with the long and frustrating video.  So, instead, I thought I would share this funny video that came at an impromptu time last week -- little max decided he wanted to interview Daddy.  I think it turned out pretty cute:

Happy Father's Day to ALL the Dads out there -- just remember, you mean the WORLD to someone!

2011 - Anniversary Getaway - Day 2 - hiking

I just realized I forgot to publish this post about day 2 of our anniversary getaway.  Day 2 was spent exploring and hiking (and then enjoying a very delicious dinner).  Did I  mention dinner?  Did I  mention that we were alone, just the two of us, without any kids?  Did I mention how wonderful it was to eat without a million questions about what we were eating, if we were going to have dessert or an ongoing commentary about the food and how someone didn't like it and would rather have a blue sucker or a peanut butter sandwich?

I did?

Oh yeah, that's because we WERE alone, WITHOUT kids.  And let me tell you, eating a dinner at a SLOW and LEISURELY pace is pretty darn wonderful.  And, I will NEVER take it for granted AGAIN!

So, we started off the morning at the Indian Mounds Park.  This park is not much to write about.  The path that winds around the Indian Mounds is very short.  If the mounds were not identified by signs, you would probably walk right by them and not take notice.

But the nature walk on the other side of the park was absolutely delightful!  And NO ONE else was there -- so it was completely peaceful, quiet and tranquil.  The path winded around the forest and down to a small creek.  You could hear the water trickling over the rocks and through some branches.  You could hear birds calling in the trees and rustling through the leaves.  Off in the distance you could hear a very persistent woodpecker.  It was very VERY nice (and quiet).

See what I mean?  BEAUTIFUL.

All in all, the park trip took less than an hour, so we consulted the map and decided that we were so close to Kohler-Andrae State Park that we would head there, buy our state park pass for the year (so we can go on hikes near home) and find a hiking path there.  We opted for the "cord-walk" -- aptly named because the boards which made the path were kept together using cord...because they winded over the sand dunes, and right up to the shore of Lake Michigan.

It was still pretty foggy, especially right up on the beach.  But still very beautiful...and despite some of the other visitors, mostly peaceful (and quiet).

I couldn't resist...I am a dork!

The cordwalk was a nice 3-mile roundtrip hike that winded through the sand dunes.  It was pretty nice, and we had a great time getting active and just spending time together -- after all, that is what the anniversary weekend is all about -- re-connecting!  It was wonderful and I am already thinking about next year's trip!  :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

An Interview with Little Max

I heart this child, seriously. He is such a ham!

Keep your eye out for a video of Sam (and another one of Daddy) soon! But for now, enjoy little Max!

2011 Anniversary Get Away - Day 1 - Caving and Diamonds

The first night of our honeymoon, we stayed the night at a B&B outside of Plymouth, WI.  Our honeymoon was a driving/camping tour of Northern Wisconsin, and that first night was the starting point of our adventures.  So, to celebrate our anniversary each year, we have tried to either go back and re-visit the original B&B, or to take a trip somewhere in the area and do some more exploring.

This year, we decided to stay at Tauschek's Log Cabin B&B just outside of Elkhart Lake, WI.  

We never know what to expect when we are trying a new place -- some years we have been disappointed, but I think we both really liked this place!

We started off the trip by dropping the boys' off at my parent's house for their own 'Stay-cation" or "Acation" as little Max put it (he was pretty stoked to get to sleep over at Granna and Grumps for 2 nights).  After lots of hugs and kisses, we got back into our car and headed into the wilderness.

Our first stop was a little out of our way at a small cheese shop in Theresa, WI, Widmer's.   They weren't doing any tours with it being the weekend and all, but we stopped and got some cheese to enjoy during the weekend. 

Since we couldn't check in to the B&B until after 4pm, we decided our next stop would be the LedgeView Nature Center in Chilton, WI.  I'm not exactly sure WHERE I found the information on the Internet about their 'cave tours', but I wish I would've done a little bit more searching first.  There were a few things that would've been nice to know ahead of time:

1.  Flashlights were recommended (bring your own) - as there is no lighting set-up in the cave
2.  Crawling is optional (um...crawling?)
3. Boots are recommended -- the caves are pretty muddy
4.  Cave tours last ~ 2 hours (don't all caves start to look the same after 1/2 hour?)

So, we had no flashlights, poor footwear choices and we had no intentions of 'crawling'.  Looking back, it is laughable.  We still had a good time, and we learned a little bit about Wisconsin caves in the process.  Overall, these trips are about re-bonding and spending time together.  We sure bonded over the absurdity of this one!

Here is the entrance to the main cave.  We were in a group with a bunch of highschoolers.  These boys were making us laugh on the walk to the cave -- at one point I turned to Max and said to him "so this is what I should be preparing for in a couple of years?"  Surprisingly, these boys were really into the caves and were sliding around from one room to the next on their stomachs and getting all muddy and dirty -- and LOVING it.  Boys will be boys!

See my footwear (and the muddy floor right next to me?)  I managed to stay mostly clean.  And, it was pretty interesting....


A view of the interior of the 'cave'.  All of these caves were excavated by hand by volunteers.  All caves in WI were filled in during the glacial period -- so they were all filled in with mud.  'Sinkholes', or depressions in the earth are usually a sign that there is a cave below.  Several sinkholes were found in this area, and so they decided to start excavating some of them -- revealing the caves below.

This was our 'guide'.  She was a very non-social guide -- but once she started talking about caves, she really opened up and you could see that she was very passionate about geology.  I have to be thankful to her that she found us two spare flashlights...

The forest was literally growing on top of this cave (and all the caves), so in some spots you could actually see the tree roots creeping through cracks in the rocks...

More mud...and puddles...and mud.  The caves were pretty neat, but as you can see -- once you've seen one, there isn't that much more to see.  At least, not for those of us who weren't using it as a big slip and slide....

I believe this cave was nicknames 'Whale's throat" should be pretty obvious why.  Again, notice the water and mud.  I did not venture down into the whales throat...and I do not regret that decision...

At one point (about 45 mins into the tour) we were given the option of sliding on our bellies into another section of the cave or climbing the ladder up and going back down another ladder.  We chose at that point to cut our tour short and let our guide know to go on without us...

We took a small hike back through the forest instead...

Saw some trillium.

And this weird fungus/bug disease...

And then we climbed this cool tower and got a panoramic view of the countryside.  It really was beautiful!

It was pretty windy at the top...

But we took our obligatory pictures...

And even managed to get a semi-decent one of us together!!

We then headed to the B&B, checked in, took a little nap and leisurely got ready for dinner out.

In the middle of getting ready, Max surprised me with my anniversary gift...

The best things don't always come in big boxes...

 Apparently this is the face I make when I am really happy about something...

Beautiful diamond earrings!  I am such a lucky lady!!

Day two is up next...