Monday, June 29, 2009


As one life prepares to enter this world another prepares to exit.

This past week my dad has gone down hill very quickly. Hospice has been called into the nursing home to help care for him. He can not eat anymore, and has trouble drinking water. He is not responding, talking, or opening his eyes. He has started running a temperature and has trouble breathing too.

Our parish priest came to the nursing home last night and gave dad the Anointing of the Sick (used to be called The Last Rites). When Father told dad that he was there to give him a blessing dad actually moved his head in the direction of Father and nodded his head. Clearly dad is still in there. And it is also clear that his faith and his God continue to be at the forefront of his life.

Dying will be a happy release for dad. He will no longer be stuck in a body that doesn't work. No longer imprisoned by his mind. It will be joyful for him. The daughter he has waited 40 long years to see again will surely greet him, and I am so happy for him. For both of them. But I'm sad for me. It is so final.

Still, life continues to go on. The boys play in the pudgie pool in the backyard. Picnics are attended. Fourth of July parties are planned. Cabinets and colors are picked out for the new house. And this little lady still kicks in my belly. And though it makes me sad to think she will never meet her adoring grandpa, and he will never get to hold my daughter, I comfort myself thinking that perhaps they will meet. Maybe even before I get to meet her. Maybe they will meet when she is on her way in and he is on his way out. And she will actually get to see the angel who will so carefully and diligently watch over her throughout her life.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

I was doing so well. I thought I would get through it all unscathed. After all, they were just clothes, and all my boys got to wear them so I had plenty of opportunity to use them.

This morning I rounded up the three bins full of baby boy clothes and started to sort through. Of course the boys oohed and aahed over all the cute fuzzy sleepers, the little jogging suits, and the many truck and bulldozer tee shirts. But I had my own favorites. My fingers ran over each one, remembering when I would rock my babies to sleep in the precious outfits. And then I would quickly get distracted with the boys' questions over the next outfit. There was no time to dwell on each outfit. And there was too much excitement, happiness, and chaos for tears.

I had managed to find a couple of white sweaters and a few green and yellow sleepers for baby girl to use, and even a few outfits I kept for sentimental value. And when I was finally finished going through the beautiful items that kept each of my babies clothed for their first two years I had five overflowing garbage bags of memories to be donated.

I packed up the boys and the bags and we drove to the donation site. It made me feel much better knowing that these clothes would be a huge help to some new mother, and would most likely bring a whole new set of sweet memories for her, too.

Then suddenly, and without warning, as I drove out of the parking lot a huge lump grew in my throat and tears began rolling down my cheeks. All those years I spent holding, rocking, and cradling my baby boys had gone by so fast and seemed to be even further away now that the clothes were gone. Never again will I be able to hold their warm, heavy, baby bodies close to me as they fall asleep. It all just seemed too sweet, too precious, too blessed to let myself believe that their babyhood was truly over. But I couldn't deny it anymore.

I cried the whole way home. And for the next couple of hours that followed.

I am so thankful for the little men that I have, but I miss my babies too. Time has just gone by too fast. I want to remember every single moment. I want to remember them just as they were. And just as they are. I want to remember every outfit. Every feature. Every facial expression. Every emotion. But I'm afraid it doesn't work that way. And all too soon I will be looking back, remembering. Again.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Guided Tour

Okay, who wants a tour of the new house? A show of hands, please? Okay. I thought so.

I took a bunch of "before" pictures last Friday after we closed on the house, and I'm really glad I did. Monday morning our contractors (two brothers from a Loooooooong line of carpenters who still have dad in on the design and budget side of the business) got to work gutting the house and by the end of the day the house was unrecognizable. It was amazing. The guys are work animals. I know it is only the first week, but I think we struck gold finding these guys.

Before I begin this tour I must warn you not to get scared. I think it is saying something that everyone I have taken through the house so far has asked me if I've seen the movie "The Money Pit". Yes, I have. And I don't want to talk about it. ;)

The house has great structure, but everything else needs to go. Remember, this was a foreclosure property. So just bare that in mind, please.
Let's start outside.
(Click to enlarge all photos)

What you can't see in this picture is the wood rot around the windows, the crazy bumpy, cracked driveway, the ugly front porch, and the hideous front door. It doesn't look that bad from this distance but up close it is a hot mess. But, BUT! It is right on top of Lake Michigan. If I just panned to the left of the house you would see it. I forgot to take a shot of that, but we are up on a cliff basically one house away from the lake. We step out of the front door and can see my beautiful lake. And you can hear the waves too. Love that!!!! You all know how much I love my lake. :) If not, see my label on my sidebar for Lake Michigan.

Okay, back to the house. We are staining the white brick to a nice, warm tan color and residing the rest with a warm brown. Gables, new windows, and a new front door will be added and the front porch will get a nice renovation too. The garage is going to be extended into the backyard to make it more like a 4 car garage. It will still look like a two car but will have a ton of space for Todd to have his little workshop, or do whatever it is he wants to do in there.

Let's move inside, shall we?
This is what you see (minus the weird old briefcase someone left there) the minute you walk in the door. It really caught our eye. I love it. Obviously not the dirty carpeting, the nasty wallpaper, or the rusty chandelier, but the structure of it all. We are putting tile (I think slate) in the entrance way, new carpeting on the stairs, a new wood railing, and a fabulous wrought iron chandelier in the center. We are unsure of the wall color as yet, but probably something like a warm tan color.

Now let's go upstairs.

The first room you see at the top of the stairs is the master bedroom. It is really large so I needed to take two views of it.
The patio doors will be taken out and the catwalk outside the doors is being ripped out because it is rotten. We are installing a window to match the rest of the windows on the backside of the house.

The little alcove you see right next to the patio doors will be enclosed and made into a massive walk in closet. There is another walk in closet on the other side of the master but it won't be as big because we are using some of that space to make the master bath bigger.
Here is the crazy master bath as it is now (well, before it was gutted, that is).

And this is the very scary shower that was in the master bath. There was a laundry room behind this wall, so that was knocked down making it one big bathroom that we can easily fit a double sink, toilet, bath, and walk in shower. Very exciting!
Okay. We are moving out of the master bedroom and walking around the open staircase to the other side of the house where the kids' bedrooms and bath is.
The first bedroom you see will be the baby's room. It is bigger than it looks but I only took one picture of it. All of the kids' bedrooms are nice size and have wonderful closet space.
In between the baby's room and Ben's room is the bathroom. It is a nice size bathroom but you can't tell because the vanity (the longest vanity I think I've ever seen) takes up the whole room. We will still have double sinks, but the vanity will be normal size.
Like I said, the other side of the bathroom is where Ben's room will be.
Next to Ben's room is Tommy and Joe's room. It has double closets and the BEST view of Lake Michigan. Lucky little turds.
Now let's go back downstairs. Around the open staircase we go! The railing is really weak and VERY low. Everytime the boys go in the house I pull them to me and don't let them anywhere near it. We are replacing it with a rounded wall which will be much more safe and sturdy, but will still keep that open feel.
At the bottom of the staircase on the lefthand side is an office. I am turning it into a library. Shelves EVERYWHERE.
I think this is one of the rooms I am most excited about. I have always wanted a library/study since Todd took me to London and we stayed at his friend's gorgeous home. He had a library room that I fell in love with and now am going to try and copy.
A built-in desk will be put in where the wetbar currently is.
Walk across the entrance to the right side of the stairs and you will see the formal living room. Todd and I have never been a fan of formal living rooms. They seem to be a waste of space. So, we are making this room our formal dining room.
Walk through the now planned dining room and turn right (it is an L shaped room) and that is where the original dining room was. We are putting up a wall to make the L shape room into two rooms and turning the former dining room into part of our kitchen. Basically where we will put our kitchen table.
This is the view of the kitchen. On the other side of the furthest wall is where we plan to put the kitchen table so we are knocking that wall down to make it all one room. The window on the right will be taken out and we are extended the countertop further and adding a breakfast bar at the end of it.
This is the opposite view of the kitchen, looking at the family room. The patio door will be closed up and moved closer to the kitchen to give us more furniture options. We are also knocking out the right wall of the family room to make the room bigger. The fireplace will get a big overhaul. Those weird flat stones will be knocked out and shelves (I am a huge fan of shelves, by the way) will be built on either side.
And, last but not least, the backyard. It is actually much bigger than it looks in the picture. I just didn't want to back up anymore and wind up in the pool. The pool (on the bottom left of the picture) will be taken out and filled in to have more grass and room for the boys to play. There is a tiki hut and changing room to the right of this picture that is rotten (and has a bees nest in it) will be torn down and we will probably put a playset there for the boys. The shed is also rotten and will be torn down. A few of the trees are rotten and have to be cut down, but the yard will still be encased with trees. I love the privacy. We are also putting up a new fence since, yep you guessed it, the current fence is rotten. The patio will be torn up and a new one put in. Whew! I think that about covers it.
On top of all that I have mentioned, we are also putting in a new furnace and all new duct work (since it had an old boiler system that needed to be replaced anyway), new pipes, adding walls, and taking others out. All new interior and exterior doors and windows too. There is another half bath on the first floor next to the garage entrance (kind of inbetween the library and the family room), along with three nice sized closets. I forgot to take pictures of that area but that is gutted as well. And I didn't take any pictures of the basement because it was just too dark and scary, but we are finishing that off too. There will be a movie room (like a man cave I suppose) and a playroom for the boys. My laundry room will be down there too. Basically everything in the house will be new. It will be like a brand new construction.
Saturday we are going to pick out all of our kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, and countertops. Very exciting, people! Also very consuming. I have been dreaming paint colors, furniture, and light fixtures the last few days. I think my brain is at it's capacity now.
Tomorrow I will post the first week's gutting progress if you are interested. The house looks so different. Kind of scary that it looks better without the carpeting and everything in it but it really does.
Okay. Go ahead now. Tell me how crazy we are. We know. But we also know it will be amazing when it is done. We are so lucky to have found this property at a third of it's value. There is no way we could have afforded this neighborhood (or house) otherwise. Once all the work is done the house will be worth twice the amount of money we put into it. It is very exciting. We are just keeping our fingers crossed that the process continues to go as smoothly and as quickly as it has so far.
(If you got through that extremely long post, I. Am. Impressed! Sorry about the stars at the end here. I think I have too many pictures and my spacing got all messed up)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Belly Shot- 8 Months

With the construction of the new house under way, and the closing date on our house approaching, I finally feel like I have time to focus on the arrival of the little lady. And WOW. I am getting so excited.

I have finally started picking up little items of clothing for baby girl. It helps to take my mom along shopping with me because the woman just can't keep her hands off the cute clothes. She just keeps chucking little outfits in the cart. Very fun.

Of course, I still don't have a room to decorate, or even a dresser to put the clothes in, but I am caring about that less and less. I've decided that until the new house is ready to move into baby girl can sleep in my room in the pack n' play that we currently have. And the changing table that Ben no longer needs can work as a make-shift dresser if I can find some pretty little baskets for it. Just thinking about little things like that gets me so excited. Being able to plan and sort and get ready for another baby. It just makes me overwhelmingly giddy.

I think baby girl senses my excitement lately because she is rolling and kicking nonstop. It is so fun to watch my belly bounce. The other night I had the boys put their hands on my belly so they could feel her hiccups and their eyes became big as saucers. They want her to come out RIGHT NOW, and I have to explain to them over and over that she isn't ready yet and that we want her to stay put for a while longer so she can be healthy and strong. Still, it is hard for them to wait. I must say, I know how they feel.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's Time

Now that the craziness of last week is finally over with I thought it was about time to deal with the matter at hand. You have been ready for a while, my boy. I know you have. You picked out your unders, your special seat, and your yummy treats. And then you waited patiently for mama to tell you it was time. We waited for you to get used to your big boy bed. We waited for school to finish. We waited for our house to sell. We waited to start the construction on our new house. And now that all of that is under way we will wait no more.

On the potty you go, my man!
You were so excited to try it. And so proud of yourself.
And then, of course, the fear set in. You were not so happy anymore. Just like your brothers, you took to peeing into the potty like a champ, but were terrified of sitting and pooing. If only I could reassure you of how much you will someday love to sit on the potty with a magazine. It seems to be some people's favorite pasttime. You can ask your daddy.

But you just didn't like it.
Your brothers even tried to entertain you with a few fancy dance moves to the tune of Boom Boom Pow. But it didn't help.
You just didn't want any part of it. You wanted off!
So, knowing for sure that you really did have to go, mommy turned into a big meany and told you that you couldn't come off the pot until there was something in the toilet. And we sat. And sat. And sat.
And FINALLY! You did it! Sure you screamed and cried through the whole thing, but you did it! And then later that night you did it again! This time with far less screaming and crying and sitting. Woohoo!!
AND, for the second night in a row, even though you had a pullup on you were dry the whole night. SUCH a big boy. Quite an accomplishment, my man! Way to go! I'm so proud of you!

(And don't worry. I edited out any photo that may have shown a little too much. Everything is hidden in the pictures and the only thing that you may see is the toliet paper that we stuff between his legs to keep him from peeing on himself. So, no need to worry about any pervs out there.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WW- Not Yet

We close on the new house tomorrow. And though we won't be needing any moving boxes for another 3-4 months (until the construction is done) the boys sure do enjoy putting them to good use.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Poll

This week will prove to be one of the busiest we've had in a while, though recently we've had some real doosies. I don't feel much like talking about it now so I'll just ignore it. They do say that ignorance is bliss, yes? I tend to agree. Perhaps I'll have the energy to fill you in on the details tomorrow. But it is a rainy Monday today, and I have loads of laundry to do, so I'll keep this post short and sweet and ignore the hysteria that will most likely be coming this week.

Thank you all for your input on our girlie names. It was so fun to read your thoughts on our favorites. Here are the ones that are making it onto the poll, and the reasons why:

It looks like Grace is your favorite so far, which is very exciting for me. I know some were concerned with it's gaining popularity but it isn't even in the top twenty in our area and the only Grace we know is 90 some years old. And there were far fewer Graces last year than the year before in our area. So, I am less concerned about the popularity of it than I was before. I also liked what TAC had to say about it. "Having a 3-year-old "Grace" of my own, of course my vote will be Grace! It is becoming popular, but every time you tell someone her name, they always 1)love it 2) say how pretty that name is 3) have a story about a Grace they once knew!!" I've discovered the same thing in telling people we are considering Grace. Plus, there is the added bonus of little lady having the same initials (if we go with Grace Marie) as my mom. I think that is neat since all of the boys' middle names are after their grandpa or dad. And then of course you factor in my longtime obsession with the name, and it is clear that Grace is in the lead in my mind.

Bella is another favorite of yours. And while it is probably my second favorite it seems that every time I turn around someone has named their dog Bella. Hmpf. AND, when people ask the boys' names I always go in order; Joseph, Thomas, and Benjamin. Add Bella to that and the Benjamin, Bella thing doesn't sound great to me. Plus our last name begins with a B (and is two syllables) and then it just becomes a tongue twister or something. Still, I can't bring myself to take it off our list just yet. I love the name. Isabella (which a few of you have suggested using as a formal name for Bella) was #4 in our area (and has been used by two of my friends already) which is way too high up on the popularity list for me. And I can't hear Isabella without thinking of my brother's crazy, round as a barrel, springer spaniel that they affectionately nicknamed Dizzy Izzy. So Isabella (though it is a pretty name) is not an option for us. Just Bella. And Bella isn't even in the top 100 so far. Yep. I still like Bella.

I was surprised by how many of you loved Lauryn. I have loved that name for a long time but every time I bring that name up to people I've gotten mixed reviews. It was nice to see that there are a lot of you out there that really like it too. I guess the only problem I have with it is the meaning of the name is pretty weak and the nicknames aren't my favorite. Still, it is definitely going on the poll.

The last one added to the poll is Audrey. The hubby is rolling his eyes right now because he doesn't even like that name very much so that should immediately disqualify it. But it doesn't. Cause I love it, and now I know you do too. So there. ;)

And those are our top four that make it onto the poll. I still love all the other names on the list but there are reasons in my mind that they don't work. I think they will still all make it onto the list we take to the hospital (and maybe even some we haven't thought of yet), but probably aren't real contenders.

Knowing how I feel about the names, and taking into account your feelings of each of the names, which of the four is your favorite? Please scoot on over to my sidebar and cast your vote now!

Hmm. This post wasn't as short as I'd intended it to be. Long winded much?

Friday, June 5, 2009

PSF: Stopping To Smell The Flowers

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

It has been a pretty stressful time around here. Not just with selling the house, construction and remodel projects, busy school life, expecting a baby, and busy work schedules. But with the things that really matter. Long time marriages falling apart. Families being torn apart. Serious health problems. So much has been thrown into our laps this past month that Todd and I repeatedly find ourselves tossing our hands up in the air and declaring that the whole world has gone mad.

I think it is especially important at times like these to see all the good things in life too. And what better time to stop and smell the flowers than on the cusp of summer.

They are everywhere, if you just take the time to see them.
And speaking of the good in life. If you haven't already done so, please stop by my last post and give me your thoughts on my list of girlie names. We are running out of time!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

TT: The Name Game

I have had the same girlie name picked out for my imaginary daughter ever since I was about 8 years old and I heard it on Little House on the Prairie. No, don't you worry. It isn't Nellie. ;) It is Grace. Baby Grace. The minute I heard it I fell in love and said, "I want a baby Grace!"

For a long time I never thought I would get the opportunity to use that beautiful name. And now I have the opportunity, and guess what. I don't know if I'll use it! Todd loves it, and I still love it too. But now that I have the chance to name a baby girl all these beautiful names keep popping into my head. The list seems never-ending. Where did all these gorgeous names come from? The possibilities are endless!

So, for today's Thursday Thirteen I thought I would give you the top thirteen on my list and have you help me to narrow it down. Only a couple months to go and we have to have a name ready! Help me out!

Here they are:

1- Grace: Still in my favorites list. I love all of the different meanings of the name; God's blessing, graceful, God's favor, quality pleasing for it's charm or refinement, seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement. So pretty! And I love the nickname Gracie. So sweet. The only drawback is it's recent popularity. When I first heard the name it was very old-school and seldom used. Now it is really gaining popularity. It isn't in the top ten, which is good, but in the top twenty. Hmm...

2- Bella: Yes, I am hugely obsessed with Twilight, but that is not why I love this name. I love the name meaning on this one too. Beautiful. Very sweet and feminine. And I like the possible nicknames of Bells or Ella. The drawbacks are that people will assume I named her after the Twilight character, and that I know so many people who are naming their pets Bella. Is it more of a pet name? I don't know.

3- Lauryn: This one has been at the top of my list since high school when I was obsessed with Lauryn Hill of The Fugees. Love her (although I recently heard that she has gone kind of cuckoo). And I think it is such a pretty name and I love "L" names. I like the Lauryn spelling better than Lauren (remember I spell my name Kathryn, so that is kinda cutsie, huh?) too. The drawback is that the meaning is "from the laurel". Lame-o. Name meanings are important to me and that one I don't like. Plus I am not a huge fan of any of the nicknames for Lauryn, and I am a big one for nicknames.

4- Sabrina: I love the movie Sabrina. And I think the name is just lovely. However, it is well known because of the super depressing poem Sabrina Fair. So I'm not sure how I feel about that. Plus it means From the River Severn. What the crap is that?

5- Layla: There go the L sounds again. Just a pretty name. The meaning is night, or black. No great nicknames either. Plus Todd immediately thinks of the Clapton song and it puts him off a bit. Still, I think it is pretty.

6- Lola: See what I mean about the L names? Love them. Unfortunately the name means sorrow. Don't like that. Plus Todd says she would have to be a showgirl (the Manilow song). "Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl". ;)

7- Lily: That is a great L name. But it is SOOOO popular where we live. I do love flower names for girls. I think that is very sweet. It doesn't really have a nickname though, does it? And Todd isn't a super fan.

9- Rose: This one is the boys' favorite. They love the name Rose. I like it too, but not as much as the others. Another pretty flower name. Todd doesn't like it at all because it makes him think of Rosie O'Donnel (who he can not stand).

10- Audrey: A very old school name. I think my interest in it is strictly because of Audrey Hepburn. Can ya blame me? Love her. And it means Noble Strength. How cool is that? Very. Can't really think of any nicknames for it though.

11- Anna: Just such a sweet name. And it works great for a little girl or a grown up. It means Gracious or Merciful. That is beautiful. And I love my biblical names (as you can tell from my boys' names). BUT, my sister's name is Anne, and I don't know if I'd want to give her a big head. ;)

12- Elizabeth: Always a classic. Means God is my Oath. Very nice. So many nicknames to choose from too. Just a great name all around. Very old school, but not widely used right now. I'm not even sure I've brought this one up to Todd so I don't know how he feels about it. I think it is very pretty.

13- Sierra: A bit more modern than the rest of my old school list. I think it sounds exotic and beautiful. Todd doesn't like it that much. It means mountain. Umm. Okay. Not great. And nicknames? Can't think of any. Still, very pretty name, though I'm not sure it works well with the boys' names.

Okay. There you have it. I'm sure I'll think of more names down the road. Todd and I always take a name list to the hospital and then pick a name from the list once we see baby. But I think only once was the name that we chose high up on the list. It seems like once we get to the hospital we think of a name that has not come up before or that was lower on the list. We're weird like that.

We are thinking the middle name will be Marie, after Todd's grandmother. And Hello! We are Catholic, people! Have to get that in there somewhere. ;) If we chose Grace, baby girl would have the same initials (GM) as my mom. I love that. But if we chose Bella than we might change the middle name to Grace because Bella Grace just sounds so good. Decisions, decisions!

So, what are your favorites from the list? Are there any names that I should have put on the list? Any personal favs of yours that you'd like to share?

I will take the top 5 or 6 names and put them in a poll on my sidebar next week. Thanks for your help, all!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Timing Is Everything

The past two weeks have been absolute madness. Between massive amounts of showings for our house, and major crisises (what is the plural of that? crisi? crisises? whatever) happening with family and close friends we have been going nonstop. But hopefully, after this past weekend, things will be slowing down.

We have accepted an offer on our house. There were two couples competing for our house and the final offer that we accepted was over our asking price. Not only that but they are trying to close as soon as possible to get us the cash equity right away, and then giving us the option to rent the house until the construction on our new house is finished. How perfect is that?

Once we put our house on the multiple listing for realtors to see everything started moving very quickly. It has only been three weeks since Todd's friend became our realtor and we already received multiple offers. So good. My mind tells me that perhaps we should have gone the realtor route a long time ago, but then we wouldn't be getting the remodel house in my dream neighborhood, so my gut tells me that everything has happened in the right order. I thought the first house was a dream house, but this one is even better. Timing really is everything.

Now all we are waiting for is the appraisal on the construction property, and we will schedule the closing so we can begin the remodel as soon as possible. It is all very exciting, really. I can't wait to show all of you the pictures of the fixer-upper. You may be a little shocked at the before pictures (so much work to be done!), but I know it will be great when it is finished. The house is gonna ROCK. Woohoo!

Thank you all for being patient with me. I know I've been absent for a long time but I'm looking forward to catching up with y'all and getting back into the bloggy world. See ya soon!

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson