OMG, I haven’t posted an update in a YEAR.

Big surprise, I haven’t had time to blog.  I have started a couple posts, and they get so long, they don’t get finished because:  well, because I wear many hats.  As a full-time working Mother of 3, you can probably imagine…

Honestly, this is old news, but I have never officially put it in the blog.  The Chicago house finally sold.  The last buyer I mentioned in my last post stuck it through.  Just to complete the ridiculous saga that was the sale of that house, here’s how it went down.   A few days after the contract was settled, we had the inspection.  Please note that we had gone through two prior inspections with a clean slate.  So we were expecting the same.  But apparently this one said he suspected water leakage in the basement.  (Side story: this house had stood strong through Two of Chicago’s all time daily records of rainfall [6.86 inches] that occurred on 7/23/11 while we lived there, AND the prior record which occurred the weekend we bought the house when 6.64 inches fell on 9/13/08!   Yes, we were stressed that weekend!). So anyway, this guy suspected water.  So then the ‘experts,’ the waterproofing people came, and said the same…  Of course they did!!!  Luckily the people still wanted the house and we will wanted to sell it, and we negotiated a deal (not in our favor of course)…  Things were going swimmingly with a planned closing date in late June.  The night before the closing, we got the bad news that it had to be pushed back another week or so.  Chase needed more time for some reason or another and I was pretty furious.  We were assured that the people still wanted the house and this was a minor bump in the road.  So we get to the next closing date, the Thursday before the 4th of July weekend.  Closing is at noon, we hear nothing;  we assume nothing is a good sign.  Then we get a call about 2 o’clock that there is a problem, and Chase doesn’t have the documents there.  They were trying to hunt down their closing person at Chase, but no one was responding.  Chase was contending that no one ever told them the new closing date.  We had 4 emails that proved otherwise.  At this point, I’d basically lost my mind.   We are paying for this house EVERY DAY their bs continued.  I demanded they pay the per diem back to the original closing date.  They agree.  So, we are now pushed to 2pm Friday, right before a holiday weekend.  I know that if there are any problems on Friday, it is highly unlikely that we will find anyone to help.  It started on a positive note; the documents from Chase were there.   Then one of the buyers realized they had spelled her name wrong on all the documents.  Does this surprise anyone?  Luckily they found someone to help and got the documents rerun, over there, and finished it about 6:30 pm that evening.  So, it finally ended – just about a year after we first put it on the market.  Thank God.

I also mentioned in my last post that my condo had gone back on the rental market.  I had to do some work there…  I got a new fridge, repainted, and had a new bathroom light fixture put in.  It took a while finding new tenants…  But I found a wonderful couple that moved in mid-June.  Then in February, the condo had a forced bathroom remodel due to updating the pipes.  I took the opportunity to do some more updating, and I had the floor redone, because it wasn’t ever the floor I had wanted and I got a new vanity.  The condo association covered the shower tile and a new toilet.  So, new bathroom!  It’s looking pretty sweet over there!!!  Now I’m going to have to see if my tenants want to re-up another year…  I hope they want to stay!!!

On the current house front, Matt’s yard has grown in (except for the former cornfield next door), the fence is up and electrified (ready for cows!), the barn got a concrete slab put in and a new large overhead door (thanks to a windstorm last May), and Matt has it now outfitted to hold some cows!  Said cows arrived in February, and Matt has been enjoying Mama (Veronica, Vicki for short) and baby bull (Rizzo).  The kids are enjoying them, too!!!  Charli has been especially bold with them and has been helping her Dad.  I had to feed them once and was pretty nervous that big Momma was not going to appreciate my presence!  Speaking of animals, Ryder (the rabbit) went to bunny heaven in early March, and Pratt (one of the 2 kittens we brought into the menagerie last August went missing just over a week ago).  We hope he will come back…  but Lord he was stupid, so….  Yikes.  Last week, we cut down all of the trees by the road in front of the house.  They weren’t very healthy, looked terrible, and we didn’t like how they blocked our view.  So, they are gonzo now!

We currently working hard on our final plans for renovating the house (no small task here), and we are getting bids from builders and having our final drawings drawn up.  The plans are to take off the back of the house, build a new great room/kitchen, convert the current kitchen into a mud room/bathroom and take the current master bedroom upstairs and make it into a bathroom/laundry room.  The new master bedroom will be over the new kitchen!  Besides that, we want to update the old part of the house with matching trim and floors, etc.  We also want to add a screened in porch, but it may be on the chopping block, as our aspirations are turning out to be more expensive than we want to actually pay for…  I hope to start the construction in the next few weeks.  It is extensive enough that when they break into the actual house, we will have to move out.  Where we are going to go, I have no idea.  Matt wants to get an RV and live in the driveway.  He thinks it will be an adventure.  I’m afraid it will lead me into an asylum!

OK, now onto the kids.  Charli!  Looking back on last summer, I think my favorite part was that she learned how to swim!  We were at a family party for the 4th of July weekend, and they had a pool.  Charli wanted to get in.  I inwardly groaned that I was going to have to get in, too, because it was kind of deep and over her head.  She told me that she wanted to go in alone (a friend was in there that she was trying to keep up with) and with just a little magical dose of peer pressure, she was swimming alone!!!  This was right after her Day Camp adventure where they swam every day – I think she needed that ‘boot camp’ to gain her confidence!!!  Her other highlights of the summer were Girl Scout Day Camp, Bible School, and swimming lessons.  We spent a lot of time working on her reading in preparation for 1st grade.  We celebrated her 6th birthday with an Olympic themed birthday celebration that was super fun!!!  She started 1st grade in August, in Mrs. Byington’s class.  It seems like she is generally enjoying first grade, and she is catching up to her peers in reading (she started out a little behind).  She is on track to be at grade-level by the end of the year!!!  As for math, she is a natural.  She likes math a lot!!!  At this point in the year, she has naturally lost her bottom two teeth (the new teeth were already up, so we never really saw that gap!) and she had to get one extracted.  So, the tooth fairy has visited 3 times!!!  She is very excited to lose more!!!  This past fall, she did soccer and Girl Scouts again (I’m still a leader), is still taking piano lessons (the girl practices very little but is kind of a natural, it seems), and we dropped her out of swimming lessons and picked up gymnastics (which she loves).  She practices her handstands ALL THE TIME and she’s getting pretty good at them!  We just wrapped up another Girl Scout cookie season where she sold just over 200 boxes.  Girl Scouts has been action-packed this year with adventures and charity work – we collected coats and worked at a Food Pantry, but yet marched in the Homecoming Parade, saw how pets get groomed and took a tour of the Police Station.  This spring we have her signed up for soccer and softball (Matt is coaching the softball team), while this summer, we are planning to try golf lessons, horseback riding lessons, do Day Camp again, keep up with her reading so she doesn’t regress, and hopefully pick up swimming lessons again.  She is right at the cusp of actually putting her strokes together, and I think with a little practice, she’ll get it!!!

Now for Miss Ellie.  Last summer, she spent her time at swimming lessons, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.  She is doing well at all of these things, but still isn’t swimming independently (not a surprise considering when Charli finally put it all together).  We celebrated her 4th birthday with the Olympic birthday party, and right after, she began her second year of preschool.  She has come a long way this year.  She can now write her name (that little e is tricky, but she’s got it now unless she writes her name backwards!?!), seems to know her letters and numbers, is coloring much better, can use scissors, loves glue (!), and seems to have taken an interest in learning to read (following Charli’s lead, and it’s fantastic).  We’ll see how she is doing at this week’s Kindergarten Roundup!  We’ve asked the team to give an honest assessment of her considering her prematurity and the fact she has a late birthday like Charli.  This past fall, she gave soccer a try, which was fun for her.  She basically just ran around, but that’s the story for most of the preschool group!  She also entered the Big Rock Plowing Match’s Princess contest and WON!  She was a true beauty queen that day.  She had a stage presence that was unmatched, and she even helped her friend on stage who was shy – it was sweet.  We also enrolled her in gymnastics (which she also loves) and kept her in swimming lessons.  Both help her flexibility and strength!  This spring, we signed her up for soccer again, and Matt is the coach of her team.  This summer, we plan to keep her in swimming lessons and try horseback riding lessons.

Finally, little Katie.  She just isn’t so little anymore!  At her latest pediatrician appointment (she has a new pediatrician now), she weighed 25 lbs. 1 oz.!  She talks a ton, she has lots of teeth, she has attitude, she loves her sisters and wants to run with them all the time.  We cuddle almost every day because she is the first one to wake up.  I love that time with her!  She is in swimming and gymnastics, just like her sisters, and loves both!  She is the go-along girl – she attends all the girls’ events and gets to participate in some of them.  She still kind of takes 2 naps, and sleeps through the night regularly now.  She breastfed longer than I ever thought she would, and I couldn’t give it up until she wanted to give it up, and that didn’t happen until just past her 2nd birthday!  Speaking of her second birthday, we had a small gingerbread-themed birthday party a couple days before Christmas.  It was attended by mostly family, but it was festive and fun!

As for me and Matt, we have been busy as usual.  We attended a few weddings last year.  One in Door County, Wisconsin (which I had never been to), and the other two a few miles from our house.  As for vacations, we went to Grand Haven, Michigan last summer for a few days (money was TIGHT last year holding 2 houses for a year, so this was about all we could muster), and then Matt and I got to go to Guanacaste, Costa Rica on a work trip in early March.  We left the girls at home with a parade of people, and they barely noticed we were gone!  It was amazing to get to go on a quiet, adult-oriented vacation to such a beautiful place.  I felt very fortunate that we had people to help us get away, and that the trip was fundamentally free!!!  Otherwise, we both have celebrated birthdays – my 40th and Matt’s 42nd.  My 40th birthday party was a total surprise and SO FUN!!!!  Matt decided to hold it after the girls’ birthday party (since people were going to be there anyway!), get me out of there, redecorate, and have a whole new crew of people come in while I was being distracted.  Here’s the answer to ‘how did they pull it off?’  First, most of the guests from Charli’s and Ellie’s party ‘left’.  So when Dad asked me to run an errand with him and asked where I wanted to go to pick a birthday present – I was game!  So we left.  And Matt went to work.  He hung lights, brought in a silo ‘bar’, had the entertainment set up, redecorated, set up food, and had a huge group of people come over!  On our way home, I was lamenting to my Dad that I didn’t think Matt was planning anything for my birthday, ‘oh woe is me’.  Minutes later, we pulled in the driveway and I realized something was up.  I went around the corner and was blown away by the sight!!!  Old friends, new friends, my family, and a lot of our new neighbors were all there – probably 75 people!!!  A guitarist playing music, BBQ, and awaited me.  It was spectacular.  One of the most special nights of my life!!!  I cried like a baby!!!  Otherwise, we joined a Eagle Brook Country Club in Geneva late last summer!  It is about 20 minutes away from the house, they have a BEAUTIFUL pool and clubhouse and golf course, they have great programs for the kids (a swim team, golf lessons, tennis lessons), and much more.  We only got to enjoy it in August, but are really looking forward to it this summer!  Finally, Matt and I entered the Plowing Match Ladies Fair with a few entries each.  I won two first place finishes and two second place finishes.  3 ribbons for my photography (2 seconds and a first) and one blue ribbon for my sugar cookies.  Matt did well too, he won the chocolate cake division and got second for a photo he took…  He also took home the coveted ‘most wins for a male’ which he tied our neighbor Wray for…  A Florence Rd. battle is shaping up for sure!

Obviously, a lot more has happened than just what I went through here.  But, at least I’m kind of caught up.  I can move forward!  I’m going to publish this initially without pictures, but I do plan on adding some as soon as I can!



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