Spring update

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Here is the latest from the O’Donnell world…  House news: we did sell off the lot in January and got that piece closed.  They haven’t broken ground on the new house they are going to put there, which seems to help us AND hurt us in trying to sell the house.  People can’t seem to visualize where it’s going to go, and of course, everyone thinks the lot comes with the property, even though we have expressly said that is not the case on our listing.  We relisted the house in mid-February with a new realtor.  We’ve had a decent amount of activity, and 4 offers, with 3 having been accepted.  The first one we accepted fell through again after just a few days.  That one bailed because of a ‘change of heart’.  Maddening.  The second one has now also fallen through.  This one fell through because the potential buyer’s downpayment plan was based on a fallacy…  He apparently thought that he was going to take a large distribution from his 401k.  What he didn’t know was that you don’t just get to ‘take’ money from your 401k without a tax penalty to the tune of about 40% of the value of the amount that you took…  I thought this was common knowledge, but it must not be…  Obviously this guy wasn’t aware of the rules of the 401k.  Sigh.  We currently have another contract, but it’s only been a couple days.  I’m bitter enough at this point to be highly skeptical that this will go through.  Inspection is on Thursday.  For the record, I can’t believe this has gone on so long.  Just to make things a little more interesting, my condo tenants also moved out in March, so that is vacant.  I showed it to a few potential renters over the past few days, and I’m hoping that one of them will bite and I can at least take that off my plate of things to worry about.

Regarding the ‘new’ house, the current project is outdoors.  The land we bought had a woods on it that was comprised of (mostly, it turns out) ash trees.  Unfortunately, the entire woods was pretty much killed off by the emerald ash borer beetle.  We realized when we bought the property that the woods was massively impacted by this infestation, so we were planning to excavate the dead trees.  Matt wanted to do it right away, but we had to wait until our nephew could help us out, since he has an excavation company (convenient right?).  As the leaves started to change last fall, I suggested that Matt go out and mark all the trees that were dead so that we could know which ones were alive or dead once the leaves fell off.  He started doing just that, but then switched to marking the live trees, because it turned out the majority of the trees were dead.  Kolt was able to come out in February and he and his crew spent a couple weeks working on the project.  So they basically knocked the trees over with an excavator, gathered them all up, and lit a bunch of fires.  We had fires going for weeks.  From there, Matt has been cleaning up the remnants and leveling the ground.  His first order of grass seed came about 10 days ago.  We are hoping to see some grass sprouting soon on the far side of the creek!  At this point, we are just praying for rain!  Matt is beyond excited!  The backyard now looks totally different with the loss of the woods.  I look forward to seeing how it will all come together.  With my husband at the helm, I have utter confidence that it will turn out fantastic!!!  He has been working with the Rich Harvest Farms horticulturist to come up with grass mix recommendations, etc.  My favorite part of the backyard right now is the fact we can actually see the creek winding through our property now.  I love seeing it every morning when I wake up.  It is so interesting how it looks in the different times of the day and night.

As for the girls, I think Kate has the most exciting news!  She is walking!!!  She started walking at about 14.5 months, slightly earlier than her sisters.  She has been gaining confidence every day and isn’t crawling all that much anymore.  She still has spills, but is quickly figuring out the physics of it all.  Besides that, she has another visible tooth, and supposedly working on a molar.  She weighed in at just under 20 lbs at her 15 month Dr. visit.  We aren’t quite done breastfeeding yet, but we are down to about once a day, so the end is near…  *sniff, sniff*  She also talks quite a bit!  She says Ellie and Mama and Dada quite distinctly, while her word for Charli has two syllables, it seems to change.  I didn’t ‘think of’ a child’s ability to say a name until it took Charli a long time to say her own name, compared to her cousin Addie who said her name so early!  I’ll have to ask a speech therapist why it’s so difficult for a child to say the word Charli, but it is.  I know the ‘rl’ combo is difficult, but I think another part of it is tough as well.  Besides that, she says all kinds of words (or at least versions of words), like cheese (the girl loves cheese), ball, baby, hi, and others.  She understands a lot, knows where the snack cabinet is, and gets her point across pretty well.  One hilarious thing she’s been doing lately is sitting on people.  She loves to sit in my lap if I’m sitting cross-legged.  She will often walk over to Ellie and just sit on her.  Ellie doesn’t really like it, and it’s hilarious watching her get mad about Kate sitting on her.  Kate has also started to attempt to run around with the girls.  She can’t keep up of course, but she really can’t wait to get into the mix!  She is still taking two naps, and is finally getting better at sleeping at night.  She is still a good eater and loves spaghetti!  She practically eats more than her sisters.  She will be growing out of her 9-12 month clothes soon, and is overall still a peanut.  One of my favorite things she does is when I get home after being away:   She’ll come walking with her arms thrown open ready for a hug and say hiiiiii!  Probably the worst thing she does revolves around changing her.  She is a major wiggler and doesn’t like changing her diaper or getting dressed!  She makes it very difficult and frustrating!  But overall, again, she is a very good girl!!!

Ellie has been keeping busy.  She goes to preschool 2 days a week, physical therapy 1 day a week, she just started occupational therapy and picked up swimming lessons.  She loves it all!!!  She seems to be much more of a ‘water kid’ than Charli.  She has taken to the water much more easily and is already mastering skills.  She isn’t afraid of getting water in her eyes and doesn’t mind going under.  The swim school I signed them up for is pretty awesome…  It’s the Goldfish Swim School; they have locations all around Chicago, and I had heard good things from a few friends of mine.  Seeing that Charli hadn’t had much success through the Y program the past couple years, I wanted to try another approach.  So far, this former swimming mama is impressed!  She loves going and gets SO EXCITED for the lessons!  I love seeing her little face in the water with her big goggles on, always smiling and bobbing around…  ❤️. As for adding occupational therapy to her mix…  It was recommended to me by our regular therapist to get her tested by the OT therapist to make sure she was where she should be against the OT milestones to make sure she’s was ‘school-ready’ by the time she actually goes to school in fall 2017.  We did that and while her fine motor skills were good, her what I’ll simplify as her hand-eye coordination, wasn’t all it should be.  Also, they felt because of her ‘core’ weakness, that her range of motion of her shoulders might be impacted by that, so they wanted to work on that…  It’s always something, it seems.  But, we have worked OT into her schedule after PT, so she goes to see Miss Mary and then Miss Robin.  She works hard and is usually exhausted afterwards.  Ellie has gone through quite a growth spurt lately.  She outgrew her orthotic boots and just got a new pair.  She will also be getting some sort of ‘suit’, I’m envisioning spanx-like pants that she will wear from her belly button to her knees to help with her posture and her core.  We’re trying to get her posture to be better, so that she engages her core more when she is standing. Once we get that straightened out, we can work on stretching her tight muscles in her legs.  Besides that, Ellie loves the iPad/phone to watch you tube and play games, play doh and silly puddy, the bounce house they got for Christmas, the sandbox, reading books, playing Barbies and driving the Jeep they got for her birthday that she shares with her sister.

Charli is finishing up kindergarten and her biggest news is that she is finally starting to read.  It’s been a little slow going for her, but she is starting to get the hang of it.  She seems to be motivated most when she has some success with something, so her new successes in reading will now progress a lot faster I think.  One of the things that she is getting a lot better at is her writing.  The teacher said they would be writing sentences by the end of school, which seemed crazy back in August, but she has been doing it for a while now!  We had a parent/teacher conference in March and Mrs. Morsch said that Charli has improved greatly since the fall, as we all expected she would.  She is also signed up for swimming lessons again, and is having a lot better experience at Goldfish.  She has been willing to put her face in finally, and is trusting the instructors more.  She is also playing soccer this spring again, with Matt as the coach.  We have had a successful year of Girl Scouts, and will only have a few more meetings left this year.  The cookie sale was a success, with her having sold close to her goal of 200 boxes.  We will have completed all of the ‘petals’ of Daisies by the end of the year.  Next year we hope to do some of the ‘journey’ badges.  It’s been an interesting year as a leader, and I think I’ll continue next year.  I have learned a lot.  As a side note, I will say that I give mad props to my Mom who was a Girl Scout leader for all three of her kids, and kept helping the Girl Scouts years beyond we were in it.  All I ever realized was that we had a bunch of crap in our house (crafty things, papers, etc) related to Girl Scouts, and that she had meetings once in a while.  Again, with many aspects of parenthood that I’m finding, I HAD NO IDEA what was involved.  There is a LOT of planning, coordination, etc. involved.  I am so fortunate to have chosen 2 other very capable women to share the title of leader with.  We have all stepped in to cover for each other, used our personal strengths, and worked together quite well.  We hope to ‘spin off’ the 1st graders into a Brownie troop next year, and take in kindergarteners, but I don’t know if there will be volunteers for that.  I’m hoping that now that the Moms of the first graders have seen ‘how it’s done,’ (haha) a few Moms will step up.  Charli has also continued her piano lessons, but we’ve had a lot of disruptions this year with the broken arm, timing conflicts, etc.  She doesn’t love it, and it’s difficult to get her to practice.  But she loves it when Margo comes for lessons!  We’ll stick with it …  One of those things I think is important…  A few other notes, we have gone to the dentist for a few fillings for Charli.  We also went to the Museum of Natural History to see the ‘dinosaur bones,’ something Charli has wanted to do forever.  I also took the two big girls to see Zootopia on opening weekend, which they loved and was very good…

As for the family side of things, we went to the local Fireman’s Dance in early February, which was fun, and we’ve done a few things with some friends with dinners, etc.  The kids have been to a couple birthday parties.

Matt and Charli went to the school’s Daddy Daughter Dance, which was very cute.  I went to a ‘Morning with Mom’ breakfast at Charli’s school, which was fun…  We celebrated Matt’s birthday and Valentine’s Day and Easter…  We only had a couple snows this winter to speak of, and really only a couple that were warm enough to go outside to enjoy…  Charli had her ‘Spring Sing in March as well – she wasn’t feeling great that day, but she powered through.  Matt joined the local Lion’s Club, too!  As always, let me post a few pictures for your viewing enjoyment!

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