Sunday, April 28, 2013

How Quickly Life Can Change...

{{{Last weekend I started writing a post (an update as to where we are in life now) but unfortunately never made it back to complete it. I may try to wrap it up soon, but in the meantime...less than a week later...we've had some big changes!}}}

It is just crazy to think how quickly life can change. We have been living with my in-laws for over 8 months, since we sold our house last summer. About a week and a half ago we began having strong feelings that it was really time to go. We have been actively searching for a house for a few months, and things were just not happening. The market is really tough right now; inventory is low so things are going fast. A lot of multiple offer situations and houses being sold basically the day they list. Tough. Especially when you have a budget.

One week ago today (last Sunday) we had 6 showings with our realtor. At the end of the day, we decided to place an offer on a house that, while it needed lots of updating (minimal fixing to our knowledge), was situated on nearly 5 acres of land. We talked about it for hours (with family and between ourselves), discussed its potential, and while it was a little further out than we had planned on, it was still not even half as far as we lived before. Monday morning I texted our realtor with our intentions...and a couple hours later I got the "bad news" call. The foundation was bad on the house, and every spring the basement would flood and require to be pumped. Ugh. We checked into a repair for that type of problem and the cost was way more than we could afford (roughly 20k).

We were a bit bummed about the whole situation, but considering our experience with searching for a house thus far, we were able to let it go quite quickly.

So, back to it. Have I mentioned my obsession with checking the automated listings that our realtor has set up for us? (anything that lists matching our criteria will show up on the list) ...  Monday night after letting go of the acreage property, I jumped back to it (finding nothing) and around 10pm I was ready to close down the computer, but had to check the listings ONE.MORE.TIME. I did, and a beautiful house appeared on my screen. I called my hubby over and we agreed we had to see it. I sent our realtor a message right away to see if we could set up a showing for the next morning. She set it up, and we met her there Tuesday late morning. The house was B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. It totally reminded us of the care and effort we put into our old house to make it shine when we put it on the market. We LOVED it and had to put in an offer. Our realtor had some other appointments that day, so we met back at her office that evening to write everything up. We knew it would be a multiple offer situation, so we worked up a deal that would reasonably work for us, without going too high for what we could afford. Said a prayer, sent it off, along with a little note-card, and knew that if it was meant to be, it would be.

We decided not to tell our families (or anyone) about the offer that we placed. When asked how it went (because they had seen the listing online, and knew it was nice) we said "another beauty at the top of our budget with multiple offers..." and kept it at that.

Wednesday was a challenge. There were 5 offers on it (before they stopped taking showings) and they would meet at 5pm to review offers. 6pm. Nervously waiting. 7pm. Anxiously waiting. 8pm. Sweaty palms and stomach butterflies waiting. Around 8:30pm my hubby got home from work. I gave him the shoulder shrug that I hadn't heard anything yet (his parents were around). 8:37pm my phone rings; it's our realtor. I b-line for the garage to take the call and my hubby soon followed.

Our prayers were answered...THEY PICKED OUR OFFER! We almost couldn't believe it. I don't know all the details, but I will just say that highest and best doesn't always "win", and I truly believe that He has a plan and it was meant to be. The sellers sound like they are really great people; we look forward to meeting them!

We told my hubby's parents first (since we live with them) and then called my parents (and all the grandparents, and texted all the siblings...). It was great. I said "remember that house in "such&such city" that we looked at yesterday? It had 5 offers on it. And one of them was ours. And we got it!" The look of shock on my mother-in-law's face was priceless - I wish I would have had the video camera going :-)  I don't think she believed us at first!

We have the inspection tomorrow, so as long as all goes well with that, we will be on our way! Projected closing date will be late May/early June. We are so thankful that our family will have a sturdy roof over our heads; a home that was given a lot of love in preparation for us, and a place we'll be able to call home for many years. We have certainly been blessed.

How quickly life can change.


This was the 35th house we looked at. Curious, for those that have purchased a house - how many did you look at before finding the "right" one and making a deal?  Please comment below, I would love to hear others home buying experiences!



Saturday, December 8, 2012

Still Kicking...An Update

Hi All! I am still here, reading others blogs from time to time, and putting my own on the back burner. I guess it has been somewhat of an unofficial unannounced break that I chose to have. I constantly had thoughts swirling through my mind that I wanted to blog about, but didn't have the time to actually sit down and type them out when they were fresh on my mind. It was starting to frustrate me and one day I decided that, although I love to write, it shouldn't feel like a burden - so I needed to take a break.

I keep a journal at my bedside, so I do occasionally hand write an entry when I am in bed, but usually those thoughts don't make their way here...

So, here's an update to some of the happenings that have been going on in my life, such as eating gluten free/my health, moving into my in-laws home temporarily, and my food blog. I will probably take another break after this post, but will update at some point :-)

Eating Gluten Free
Today marks 23 weeks of eating gluten free! I have been with it so long, that I usually have to check a calendar to count the weeks now :-)  I was tempted to test it out yesterday morning (by eating something with gluten) because I decided to make the kids pancakes with regular wheat flour. Part of me is just curious to see what reaction my body would have after all this time (if any)...but, I changed my mind and had a bowl of frozen blueberries and sliced bananas instead. I feel so good most of the time, that I'm scared to test it. Has anyone that has gone gluten free - for reasons other than Celiac Disease - ever tested the effects of gluten after being free from it for a long time? I'd be interested to hear others experiences.

A side note, as far as my health goes... I am still battling my foot injury issue. It could be that I'm a busy momma and can't stay off my feet long enough for it to heal, or maybe the cause is something else. Sometimes I worry that maybe there is another underlying cause that I should be getting checked out - but I just feel so stuck, I don't know what to do. In mid-November I decided to return to the chiropractor that I've worked with many times over the years...hoping there would be something they could do. I went for a couple weeks, and it seemed to help for a short time, but overuse just aggravates it. Then, the last couple of weeks have been so busy with running around (kids to school, my dad to doctor/physical therapy appointments, etc...) that I haven't wanted to add one more thing knowing that it will just undo any help I get with it. I set up a care plan with X number of visits, so I will return - maybe around Christmas break when the kids will be off school for over a week. There are some other nutritional options I am interested in there, but I need to wait for 2013 to come before I pursue them.

Our Temporary Living Situation
It has been about 3 1/2 months since we made our move. Overall, things are going well. My in-laws are nice to be around and helpful with the kids when we need it, and there haven't been any major issues. Every few weeks I get in a rut where I am overly anxious to be back in our own space, but I know we have a ways to go before we can take the next step. We watch the house listings that our awesome realtor set up for us to receive, and we even looked at a place last week. We could possibly afford something right now at the low end of our price range...unfortunately the house we looked at was a mess. We're ok with a fixer upper (my hubby is amazing), but this place was more of a 'bull-doze it down and start over' kind of house. The yard was nice though :-)  Anyways, we'll keep saving until next spring/summer and then we should be able to get into a house higher up in our price range a.k.a. a bit more move in ready, a bit more space, more preferred location, etc.

I have to admit that I think about our old house from time to time... Sometimes I feel like I might regret our decision, but then I think about all the good that has already come out of this whole situation and the feelings of regret disappear. We had a fantastic house 'up north'. It was beautiful; we (ok...really my hubby) made the house our own by finishing the basement, adding a deck, installing a fence, etc... By the time we sold - it was perfect. We had installed new counter tops in the kitchen, cleaned windows, cleared it of all clutter, etc... I often wonder what it looks like now. I've had a few dreams about it (where we decide to go check it out, even though we no longer live there) but it looks different each time.

The couple that lives there now reminds me of when we bought the house back in 2004...young...early-mid 20's...buying their first home...starting a new adventure together. Each year since brought us new excitement and joy. 2004-we got engaged shortly after buying the house. 2005-we got married. 2006-I got pregnant. 2007-our daughter was born and I got pregnant again. 2008-our son was born. 2009-hmm...???. 2010-I quit my job to stay home with the kids, and spent 3 weeks in Finland. 2011-hmm...maybe there were a couple years nothing overly exciting happened. 2012-we decided to sell our house and start a new adventure.

This past Monday the kids and I went up to visit my friend and her two boys (the family I did daycare for in our old town). As we approached our old street I was overcome with a flurry of emotions. It was the first time I had been back to our old town since we moved. It almost felt like I was headed back home after an extended vacation. We drove by the house (at the request of my daughter) and it looked the same, except for they have a different garbage service. It was a very weird feeling.

I miss the house, I miss our neighbors, I miss the feel of an old small town. I wish we could have just picked it up and moved it 30 miles south. I know He has a plan for us.

The good that has come from the move has come in the form of family. We get to see our family so much more, now that there isn't a 45 minute drive each way. The kids get to see their cousins A LOT, and that was one of the major deciding factors in our move. It's so great to spur of the moment meet up with my parents to do some outlet mall window shopping, or come by for dinner on short notice. Sometimes the small things are really the big things.

Food Blog
I started my food blog in October. I wasn't really ready to get it up and running, but there was a food challenge I wanted to participate in so I decided to just go for it. Although I haven't posted since the challenge, I do have quite a few recipes written up as drafts, and a few still handwritten. The photos are ready to go, I just need to find an easy way to watermark them (I don't have Photoshop). I've created a few unwritten recipes lately - and I really should get back to writing everything down and taking photos. With so much going on in the non-technical part of my life, I haven't taken the time for blogging, here or there.

What's To Come?
Eventually I would love to make blogging a regular habit hobby because deep down it does bring me a ton of joy to write out my thoughts, and to share my food creations. For now I will get through the holidays - I'm currently working on the annual home made sewing project for all the kiddos in my life - and we'll see what the new year brings!


In case I don't make an appearance before the year runs out...I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season filled with family and love!


p.s. Remember my 2012 reading challenge?  I met my goal quite a while ago, and have slowly continued my reading. My list (linked at the top of the page) will be updated in the next few days-you'll notice I didn't read much of what was on the original planned-to-read list (and now most are packed away until we move again) mostly because I have a library addiction. I have a few weeks to decide what my reading goal for next year will be!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mommy Time Outs...

Ahh...the mommy time-out.

One night this past week I just couldn't take the constant chatter of my lovely children any longer. I'd spent all day with them (as I do most days) and we had a good day, but I just yearned for a few minutes of peace. I was making dinner and the kids were at the table patiently waiting. It was too close to dinner to get them started on something to occupy their time. Then all of the sudden, out of my mouth came "Uh-Oh, time for mommy to have a little time out! I'm going to set the timer for 5 minutes and there can be no talking or sounds during my time out."

I set the timer...and magically it worked. The kids sat there quietly and waited out my time out. And thankfully when the timer beeped, they were a lot more calm and actually used their quiet voices for quite a while afterwards.

I have to say, it was the most peaceful 5 minutes of my whole day. I felt so much more relaxed after just those 5 minutes of silence that the rest of the evening was also a lot more relaxed. Bedtime went more smoothly (it was my hubby's late day at work, so usually by bedtime I am just maxed out after being solo all day/night and I can get a bit crabby...) and it was a great way to end the day.

The next night at dinner it was the kids and I, and my MIL & FIL. The kids were rambunctious and having a hard time sitting in their seats and using their quiet voices. It was a bit much for the adults, after a long day, so out came the mommy time out again. I figured it would benefit everyone. It was a bit more challenging with more people since the kids wanted to chat with grandma and grandpa, but eventually it worked out. I had to keep myself from laughing; I don't know why it seemed such a funny thing to me that night. Maybe it was thinking about what my in-laws were thinking about the whole thing, that maybe I was going a bit crazy ;-)

This may become a regular thing at mealtime when the kids are loud, because it just makes for a much more peaceful mealtime. I will have to ask my hubby to try it out sometime if I won't be home for dinner, just to see if it works for him too :-)

I highly recommend this for any adult that will be caring for children - you get a few minutes of peace to relax, the kids get a chance to calm down a bit, so it is a win-win situation for everyone!

I haven't had a lot of time to sit and type lately, but we're working on building that time in to the "schedule". Thank you for sticking with me despite the lack of posts! I have some handwritten material that will make it up soon.

I've also worked on a few recipes this past week, so you'll see them popping up soon over at my new baby: Stirring Up The Kitchen. Be sure to check them out! I didn't feel like I was ready to put my food blog up yet (and I still need to post my "welcome"...) but I've been working on recipes, and glad that I have a space to share them with you all! Eventually the design (etc.) will come together, but we're all just there for the food anyways, right?  ;-)

I'm enjoying this beautiful sunny fall day here in the Midwest  typing outside as my family runs around the yard. Time to put the computer back in the house though...

Hope you are all enjoying this lovely Sunday as well! Where are you reading from? What is your weather like today?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Announcing The Arrival Of...

Stirring Up The Kitchen!

I am so excited to share that I have created a food blog! (a.k.a. my new "baby")

And...when I say 'created' I mean that I have accomplished #1 on my list - to come up with a name. #2 (setting up a new place) is in the works. I have a template in place that I have customized a bit, but it is not anywhere close to the sketch I have on the desk in front of me. That will come in time, but for now I just wanted to be able to get started with the fun part - sharing recipes!

I had planned to have a welcoming post up first for my new blog, but instead you'll see a recipe! I have been wanting to participate in the Crazy Cooking Challenge for quite some time - and they post on the 7th of each month, so I decided to make that my first post instead of posting my recipe on this end of the blogging world :-)  You'll find the 'welcome' this week...a little backwards...I know...

Starting out, my goal is to post a recipe once per week, but as I get more settled (and eventually get my own kitchen again) it will be more frequently.

I'd like to keep my new blog as a place for sharing recipes and food related information, so I will continue to post here as well.

I hope you'll hop over to say "hi" as I'm Stirring Up The Kitchen, With A Spoonful Of Love!

P.S. Be sure to check out my recipe for Spiced Apple Pie Muffins (as well as all of the other awesome recipes linked up at the bottom!). They are hubby, mother, father, nephew and niece approved! Thank goodness for family nearby to help with taste-testing. I'm sure our kiddos would've approved too if they would have been willing to try them...eventually they'll be convinced to be my taste testers too ;-)

Monday, September 24, 2012

What's On My Plate...

This past Saturday marked 12 weeks of living my gluten-free lifestyle. I believe this is the longest that I have ever 'stuck' with anything of this nature. Yay!

Overall the experience has been a great one. My tummy is happy and I rarely feel bloated. When I occasionally do, I believe it could possibly be due to cross-contamination. I don't worry too much because it's not an everyday thing, but I do take note and try to figure out what the culprit may be.

My energy levels are up a bit, and my mind is clear...despite living the chaotic life of having young kids in school, taking care of our living space, etc...  :-)

I think my prior experiences with trying to eat healthy and figuring out food sensitivities has really prepared me for going gluten-free. I was already used to cooking and baking from scratch, and focusing on fruits, veggies, and grains...so it has really been a matter of checking into products that are on hand or that I am thinking about buying, to make sure they are free from gluten. I have been able to make simple substitutions to continue enjoying many of the foods I love. Overall I don't really miss anything, except pizza. I love pizza and just haven't attempted making a gluten free crust, YET. I usually substitute brown rice or quinoa for crust. Later this week I plan to add a page link at the top of my blog with various gluten free tips/substitutions/etc.

The more simply I eat, the easier my life is.

Originally I had planned to 'test the gluten waters' at week 12. Well...I'm two days past that mark and am sticking to my gluten free ways. I am working on letting my foot injury from the summer heal - and by 'working on' I mean that I have been icing my foot, using crutches, letting my hubby do the grocery shopping, letting my mother-in-law help out with a few things, and generally trying not to over-do things. (I visited the doctor after our move to get an x-ray; nothing was broken and the doctor said, "I know this is unrealistic with a 4 and 5 year old, but just try to stay off of it as much as you can for a couple weeks." A month later, I am trying to follow his recommendation...) The crutches have been 'interesting', and I have managed to do quite a bit - including cooking/baking, lots of stairs, etc. Yesterday my MIL's walking boot came out (she broke her ankle last year). She had mentioned it before, but I wasn't sure about it. The crutching is creating problems with my 'good' foot, so I decided to give it a shot. It actually wasn't too bad. I even played ping-pong at my niece's 8th birthday party yesterday :-) It's getting better, but taking time.

I still plan to 'test the gluten waters' at some point, but decided that it wasn't worth the risk while my foot is in the healing stage. When the day comes...as much as I'd love to eat a Davanni's Deep Dish Pepperoni Pineapple with Pink Sauce, or any pizza from Papa Murphy's, I will keep it simple. I will make something at home that I've made a few times during the past 12 weeks (pancakes, muffins, etc.), but setting aside my gluten-free flour collection so I have just one variable. I figure this is the safest way vs. eating something processed (pasta, store bought bread, etc) that contains other ingredients out of my control. :-)

Time to move around a bit after resting my feet for a long while! Look for my new page link at the top later this week! It will mainly be a place for me to jot down substitutions I've made, tips on products I've bought, and ideas for people considering going gluten free to realize that it doesn't have to be complicated, expensive, etc. to eat in a way that could possibly change their lives for the better!

Make this a fantastic week!

p.s. I'm slowly making progress on my new 'baby'...aka project!

Friday, September 7, 2012

My New 'Baby'...

My new 'baby' has been brewing for quite a while! Although I still have some prep work to do, I am anxiously awaiting its arrival later this year.

I have many feelings that come with such a big life change...excitement, fear, happiness, wonderment, etc. Some of the common feelings that someone entering a new adventure such as this may endure.

Once I get my prep work done, then I am hopeful that things will be smooth sailing for the duration. I realize that there will surely be hectic days, many challenges along the way, and frustrating times, but overall it will be an enjoyable time filled with successes, learning lessons, fun times, and lots of love - these I pray will overshadow the others.

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My Prep List*:

1) A Name.
I will continue the process of coming up with a name...this has been a (fun) challenge as I want to come up with a completely unique name which also has meaning to us.

2) Setting Up A New Place
I have some potential colors picked out, and a few design ideas, but I need to see how I can make them fit together. I'd also like to come up with some nice photos to put on the wall. Design is not my strong point, but I have several people who can give me great input.

3) Supplies/Things
I already have a lot of things that I'll be able to use, but it would still be nice to get a few new things to help along the way.

*I have to note that I am not alone in this; my hubby will be by my side to lend a hand in many ways as time goes by.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-

I'm sure there are many other things to add to the list, but these are the big ones. I will  always have my scrap paper/sticky note "To-Do" lists here and there...to help me along the way.

I'll continue to post about any progress along the way and am hoping for an arrival sometime before the new year is upon us!

Make it a great day!

UPDATE to clarify confusion in case my family wonders why I would break this kind of news on my blog:
My new 'baby' is actually a project that I have had on my mind for quite some time, and with my hubby's support and encouragement I am working to make it a reality. This is big for me, especially after floating for a while, not knowing what I want to do with my 'life' - I've considered this, but never thought of it as being what I "do". Praying with some hard work it can be just that...what I "DO". Very excited to share it - but need to tackle #'s 1 and 2 on the above list first. Hopefully sooner than later :-)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Skinny" Struggles...and Shopping in the Girls Section

Jeans. My nemesis, no longer.

I am petite. Struggling to get/stay up to 100 pounds petite. It is due to a genetic condition where one of the (many) less serious characteristics is a high metabolism and difficulty gaining weight. It is a struggle similar to being overweight, although on the opposite side of the spectrum. It comes with labeling, stares, whispers behind my back, and people "hating" me for being skinny. About 10 years ago I found out (from someone other than my mom) that people used to ask my mom if I was anorexic. I don't remember if I ever asked my mom about this; but if it was true, how sad that people would ask her that. Anyone that knows me, knows that I love to eat. I eat a lot, and I eat often. It's actually a challenge sometimes because my high metabolism leaves me feeling hungry nearly all.the.time. Anorexia is a very serious condition, and while I have never been anorexic, I feel sad for those struggling with it because it must be painful not to eat and to view yourself as "fat" when you really are not.

It comes with dirty looks and comments when I am out with my 5 year old daughter and 4 year old son (I'm guessing they think I am a teenager...with two kids, which even if I was-still not ok to be rude); my favorite non-dirty comment was in the grocery store a while back when an older couple whispered to each other after I passed with my two children in the cart, "she must be the babysitter". Nope. I'm their mom. I just laughed to myself as we rounded the next aisle.

The two times that I was actually able to gain weight was during my pregnancies. I had polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid) with both, and gained 55+ pounds with each time around. I was HUGE. And it was mostly baby related. My former co-workers at the college would always tell me that from the back I didn't even look pregnant, and then I'd turn and WHOA! Watch out! :-) Several of the students that I helped there had asked if I was having twins; I was even asked once or twice if there were triplets in there! I loved being pregnant; gaining so much weight didn't bother me at all, and neither did the comments and questions. It was such an awesome experience. I had hoped some of the weight would stick around, but, it didn't. Here are a couple photos...let's just pretend I didn't really share these :-)


(left) Baby #1 - 39 weeks - May 2007   (right) Baby #2 - 39 weeks - July 2008

Being petite also comes with the difficulty of buying clothes that fit. I'd love to buy cutesy, fancy, dressy tops that many people my age wear may give me a more grown up appearance, but I'll just say I'm small all around and they just don't make them for people that can't fill them properly. So, I stick to mostly t-shirts, tank tops, and every once in a while find a "fancy" shirt that looks ok. Pants are similar; I don't have any hips to fill in the gaps. I had been lucky finding jeans at Old Navy the past couple years, but have grown tired of having to always cut off several inches from the bottom to hem them up.

I solved this problem on Sunday as I headed over to the 'girls' section. Yes, girls. Not juniors, not womens... I should note that I didn't feel I even needed new jeans (I have two pairs I bought after Christmas, hemmed up, and rotate) but I was out with my mother-in-law and daughter to do some school shopping, and apparently my hubby had told my MIL to try and get me to buy something for myself :-) I should also note that I enjoy sewing and I do have my sewing machine handy after our move (I know, I know, I was going to write about that...I'm a little 'off topic' here :-) ) but I just wanted to not have to go that route for once. Anyways...I tried on a couple different sizes and ended up buying a size 12 plus. In girls. It's crazy. They even have those buttons on the inside of the waist with the elastic to adjust the size, which comes in so handy for young children, and now, apparently ME. The size 14 was still too long, and the size 12 waist a bit snug, but the size 12 plus was perfect. The waist is similar to the 14 (and yes, I am taking advantage of the elastic in there) and the length is perfect. They feel great and fit great! And the best part is no one will know that I bought them in the girls section...well, except for anyone reading this ;-)

We all judge from time to time, whether it is spoken to another, or in our heads. Just be careful when you judge, you don't know why a person is the way they are, or in the situation they are in.

If you see a 'skinny' girl don't feel envious of her, she may be struggling as well. If you see a 'skinny' girl, don't label her as anorexic, she may actually eat more than you. If you see a 'skinny' girl, don't stare, it may deplete her self-esteem. If you see a 'skinny' girl, say "hi", she could be a good friend if you really got to know her.

We are all different in our own ways; there is no normal, there is no point of 'perfection', we should never assume we are better than someone just because they are different than us.

"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You." Dr. Seuss