Saturday, December 24, 2016

Sledding Hill

Life unfolded in an unexpected way.  Our house deal fell through.  Mixed emotions.  We believe God has a better plan for us, and that house was not for us.

We are using the time to make a few tweaks in the home.  This is the before picture of our kitchen island.

And this is the after!

We're doing this to sell our home.  But, we are loving it so much it might be hard to leave:) 

Enjoyed Marie's annual Gingerbread Party with my running buddies (missed the few who could not make it).

The kids don't let any dust settle on the cookies before eating them:)

His masterpiece.

The cookies were a hit with this one.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas:)

The Boy Scouts (and Dads) filled a care package of notes and goodies for my cousin and his squadron in the Air Force.

On a truly frigid day, the boys bundled up and took to the slope.

Even though it doesn't look like a lot of snow, the sledding was still amazing.

Phase two of kitchen updates: granite counter tops.

We agreed that we should have made these remodels years ago!

So pretty!

Our annual New Year's Eve (we did it on the 23rd this year), dinner with the Maxwell family.

Runner's World announced "Happy first day of winter running" on social media yesterday.  Accompanying their pronouncement was a photo of a women runner clad in a long sleeve shirt and running tights.  She gleefully cut through powdery snow.  Her expression was light without depicting an ounce of discomfort.

Her image looks little like my reality.

For my winter running, I'm bundled in several layers.  My clothes are functional; style falls second place to warmth.  A hardy hat covers my head.  Pretty, no.  Practical, yes.  Am I smiling?  Who can see between the clothing layers, snow, and gusts of wind?

Winter is not my favorite season.  Most of the winter months, I daydream about teleporting our home, school, and church to the southern tip of Florida.  I can live a good, fulfilled life without ever experiencing another snow storm, blizzard, freezing rain storm, ice storm, or any other unbearable winter weather condition.

On Sunday, the boys and I bundled (and I mean bundled) up to go sledding on our local hill.  With our extensive layering, the frigid (-1 degree) temps were bearable.  We skated across the icy field to arrive at the sledding hill.  Then, the boys ascended the hill clutching plastic saucer and foam riding sleds.  I tagged along behind and supervised the crew.

They must have raced down the hill about a zillion times.  As soon as they landed at the bottom, they jumped up and darted back up the incline.  After awhile, they became interested in an icy patch at the base of the hill.  From the top of the hill, I watched them slide across the ice, giggle and stumbling across the surface.  Through their layers, I could see the pure bliss across their faces.

Seating on my little patch at the top of the hill, I scanned the winter scenery that unfolded below me.  The winter white decorated the landscape.  It was beautiful.

Florida would be nice in December.  But, this was nice too.  I decided a lounge chair by the swimming pool could wait.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

December Birthdays

It was red and green day at school to celebrate Christmas.  Whereas many students selected festive items like Christmas sweaters, Collin wore green shorts with a red Nike sweatshirt.

Collin's Thanksgiving recipe.  We are grateful that Collin did not make the turkey this Thanksgiving!  Saved us an ER visit.

For the state's 200th birthday, Cooper submitted an essay on "What's Next for Indiana."  Out of 700 received essays, he earned a second place award.

For the state's birthday celebration, Cooper read his essay at the Indiana State Library.  Here he's getting a hug from the Indiana Superintendent of Schools.

And he won $100 for college.  Chris said it will probably be enough money to pay for his lunch one day:)

Birthday season began.  I blinked, and Caleb turned 14 years old!

Move over Baskin Robbins, this year I made Caleb an ice cream birthday cake.  

A day after Caleb's birthday, Connor celebrated his 12th birthday!

Per Connor's request, I made a peppermint birthday cake.

This one is a certified pre-teen.

I hope his wish was more time with his parents.

This was actually a happier occasion than Collin's face displayed.  Mr. Collin aided me in whipping up sugar cookies.

I think the cookies were one part flour to one part cookie.

Rounding up birthday week, Chris celebrated his 25th birthday (plus 20) with his favorite male companions.

Christmas is a nutty season for us all.  Between the shopping, the baking, the wrapping, and the the merriment, life is hectic.  In our family, we have an added layer of complexity.  We have not just one birthday, but three family birthdays in the span of a week.  What would I call it?  poor planning.  dumb luck.  extra blessing.  Probably all of the above.  But it's pumped more calories into our bodies in the form of multiple birthday cakes, and it's pulled more money from our wallets in the form of multiple birthday presents.

Three birthdays in the span of a week in December has taught me that the Christmas month will be crazy.  It will not be neat and organized.  My presents will not be wrapped and purchased before December 15th.  

Somethings will fall under my radar.  

I'll forget to buy a present.  I'll omit a loved one from the Christmas card list.  I'll add salt instead of sugar in the Christmas cookies.  But that's ok.      

Our December will not mimic a Martha Stewart Holiday celebration, but it will be filled with love....and lots and lots of cake.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Over the river to Grandma's House

All dressed up and ready to go to the Toys for Tots event.

I knew it was only a matter of time before I transformed my hubby into a runner.  On Thanksgiving, he ran his first 10K race!  (Cooper did the 5K too!)

He did it, and he's still smiling!

For Thanksgiving, we visited Chris's parents at their Lake Norman, North Carolina home.

 Cooper served as Grandma Wood's Thanksgiving apprentice. 

I can't remember the last Thanksgiving where the boys were comfortably wearing shorts and t-shirts outdoors!

Ready to feast.

View of Lake Norman at another morning run.

The Raptor Center with Grandma!

This guy never tires of exploring the beaches.

A trip to Charlotte followed Thanksgiving.  Regardless of their age, the boys found things to do.

Charlotte Science Museum was another stop.

I'm on a quest to take the kids to all 50 states.  Being that we were so close to the South Carolina border, we had to pop over state lines to grab an ice cream and cross off another state.

Chris's parents were gracious enough to babysit the boys so we could have a night out.  We were hungry enough to agree to outdoor seating (and bypass the hour wait to get a table).  Note we are the only ones outdoors:)

Two days after Thanksgiving break, the kids were back to their school routines.  Collin was reciting his Ugly Duckling project at school.

We've never traveled over the river and through the woods to get to Grandma's house.  For all of my kids' lives, Grandparents lived with an hour to two hours.  Things changed when my in-laws moved to North Carolina a few months ago.

With modern technology, we can keep in touch.  But modern technology doesn't work for holidays.  Holiday text messages pale in comparison with sitting across the dining room table from a loved one while feasting on Grandma's signature sweet potato pie dish.  So we packed up four kids and all their belongings (grumbles Chris), and we took the nine plus hour trek down to Grandma's house.  

Some may find this sort of holiday travel to be arduous.  Traffic congestion and busy airports can zap the holiday spirit out of the best of us.  Maybe because this was our first holiday jaunt, I found the experience to be refreshing.

We had a lot of time in the car, but we were together in the car.  We watched the flat plains of Indiana transform into hilly Appalachian terrain.  The frigid Midwest air warmed as we headed South.

Once at my in-laws, I wasn't at the mercy of my dishwasher, laundry machine, and computer.  My time was spent with my kids, my husband, and my in-laws.  We explored their beautiful new hometown and became familiar with all the beauty the Carolinas have to offer.

The ride home was a bit more difficult.  Traffic was congested and tired boys (and parents) were less patient.  But, the happiness we felt about the trip remained.

Friday, November 18, 2016

House Hunters: Looking for a Match

A photographer, I am not.  But a proud mom, I am.  This fuzzy image is a picture of Caleb at his recent Butler Jazz Band concert.

I feel like I'm on

Instead of looking for a date, we're looking for buyers for our house.

We've put pictures on the internet to woe suitors.  The images depict its best sides.  All the flaws are hidden or photoshopped out.  The description about the house is glowing with no mention of the aspects of the house that cause us angst.

Then we've waited for an onslaught of interest.  The rush has never come.  Instead, a trickling of potential buyers have wandered through the house.  Each toss out a few nice comments.  They appreciate the layout.  Some enjoy how the natural light floods into the living room and engulfs the space.  

Then, the "but" comments follow.

but the stairs are too steep.

but the bathroom isn't tiled.

but the yard lacks privacy.

Some even say, "It's not you, it's me."

But it feels like it's me.  

Like our house is too homely to attract a buyer mate.  Like it lacks the spark to differentiate itself from a slew of others.  Like it's unattractive, unkempt, outdated, and outmatched.

My realtor reminds me it just takes one buyer.  One buyer to see past any perceived flaws and notice the inner beauty of the structure.  One buyer who can see what we have seen in the walls of this space.  

A home where the Christmas tree sits proudly in the corner of the living room and proves to be a sparkling accessory to the fireplace.  

A home that has the most beautiful room for a nursery.  It was the space where my precious newborns slept peacefully (and not peacefully) for years.

A home with a backyard that bursts with neighborhood kids engaged in a serious game of kickball.

A home where birthdays were celebrated, valentines were made, halloween bags were filled, anniversaries were remembered, tears were cried, knees were skinned, jokes were told, meals were made, prayers were said, and friends and family were always welcomed.

I'm waiting for that one buyer. 

The buyer whose willing to commit to this wonderful place we've called home.

Monday, November 7, 2016

November Update

Cooper and a buddy dress up for a Halloween party.  Cooper's Karate Kid outfit included a black eye!

Double Digits!  My brand new 10 year old!

The neighbor kids came out to celebrate Cooper's birthday.

The piƱata lasted for one child before the candy dropped to the ground and everyone rushed to grab coveted pieces.

The toilet paper mummy game was a hit!

The Happy Birthday serenade was more like a collective scream.

Trick or Treating buddies.

The whole neighborhood gang before the dash for candy.

The Monumental Marathon/Half Marathon ranks as my favorite race.

Jessica and her Boston buddies came in for the race.  All smiles after the race was over! 

The Boston gals enjoyed Hoosier farm to table dinner.

Pumping the calories back after the race.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind.  

For starters, we've agreed to buy a new house.  Which is excited and terrifying at the same time, because (oh yeah) we own another house.  To get our current house on the market has involved sweat, tears, purging, cleaning, and lots of prayers.  After a week of endless work, our house has never looked better.  We gaze around the room and marvel at the cleanliness and order of our space.  Who knew this house could be so clean?!?  Now we want someone else to reach the same conclusion.  Prayers appreciated:)

When not cleaning, we were celebrating.  First came Cooper's 10th birthday.  We invited a handful of neighbor kids over to join in the festivities.  What I perceived as a chaotic party, the kids considered pure joy.

We hadn't finished digesting his birthday cake when Halloween arrived.  Connor made it his personal mission to hit every single house in the neighborhood.  A feat that required dedication, stamina, and energy.  (Now I know he possesses all three when properly motivated!)

Finally, Jessica and her Boston friends were houseguests over the weekend.  We all ran the Monumental Marathon/Half Marathon.  While I trained for the marathon, the above listed activities filled my plate to the point where I thought a marathon would not serve me well.  I opted for the half marathon instead and enjoyed the entire experience.

So now we wait.  We pray for just the right buyer to rush into our home and place an offer.  Waiting is hard.  Prayers appreciated.