May 29, 2010

A Thank You

To the random passerby who rearranged my flower pots:

Although the idea that someone rearranged my property without speaking to me prior to doing so makes me a little uncomfortable, I am really glad that you did.

The flower pots look so much better in their new location.

Now, would you mind rearranging the fifth bathroom? Maybe send it over to the far side of the pit next door?


Three Months

This past month I've really been using my neck muscles. I prefer to be upright now . . . at least in someone's arms (it helps me to get a better vantage point when staying away from Avery's suffocating love).

You can tell that meal time is my most favourite time of the day. Even though mom says I resemble a geyser by the way I am constantly spitting up, I have managed to pack on the pounds. (You'd do your best to get as big as you could in as little time if you had siblings like mine. It's strictly in self defence!)

Avery has been mostly nice to me . . . but she is just so unpredictable. She'll be playing nicely with me and then the next second she'll be jamming my paci in my mouth or head-butting me. It's no wonder Guillermo tries his best to protect me. He understands what I go through.

I've also been practicing my vocal cords. I'm getting really good at saying, "Hi". And my smiles are so contagious! No one can resist my tongue-smile-arm-flapping routine.

I have started noticing some differences lately. Mom and the other big people seem to put stuff in their mouths. It usually comes from these big bowls and plates . . . boy does it look interesting! I wonder when I am going to gain some hand control and put some in my mouth too! (Mom doesn't seem too interested in giving me any samples.)

May 27, 2010

Seeking Refuge

Growing up in the country, we never had air conditioning.

Was it just not hot in rural Canada? No, it was pretty hot. We'd have fans everywhere, go out for dinner, movies and to the mall on the REALLY hot days. But otherwise we got by with sitting outside in the shade and made really good friends with the neighbours up the road who had a pool.

Flash forward about 15 years and I find myself in the country again . . . without air conditioning.

Not wanting to pay the inflated fee from the builder, we passed on upgrading to a/c. We knew we could find it cheaper else where and were planning to install it late June. (After all, this IS Canada and normally the weather isn't too hot until then. Not to mention we both lived years without it in the country.)

Yeah. Up until the weather this year decided to have record heat waves that haven't been seen since 1941!! Yesterday was 37 degrees celsius . . . 99 fahrenheit for you US folks. That's about where the temperature has been this past week and is looking like next week will be at too. YIKES!

Since we don't even have a lawn to jump under the sprinkler on, we decided to get out and drive around in an air conditioned car to beat the heat yesterday. We even went shopping and to the garden centre.

Well, you know you are really desperate for heat relief when you are 31 and standing fully clothed under the sprinkler systems in a GARDEN CENTRE.

And sadly enough, we may go back today. And all of next week. (Maybe I should consider rotaing through different centres so as not to look TOO insane?)

We are still pricing out a/c and are hoping to get it installed next week. Hopefully before Jackson's birthday party . . . and hopefully the rest of the summer will be hot to warrant it. (I'm sure murphy's law would have the temperature go down to freezing for the rest of the summer as soon as we install a/c.)

Green With Envy

The other morning we awoke to a thundering noise and the shaking of the house.

(Oddly enough, early in the morning there was a search helicopter that was circling our town, and our subdivision so I actually thought it had come back to search in the daylight.)

I quickly realized that the noise and shaking were from the tank of an excavator rolling past our door . . . and digging virtually right beside our window. (Anyone who lives in a newer development knows how tightly they squish homes together, well, for homes that are already built it leaves very little room beside us to stand on that sliver of ground.)

We were pretty excited because finally after watching every other street get built up and have wonderful neighbours moving in, it was finally our turn. No more calling across the development to say "hi" to anyone. No more isolation. And, hopefully, it meant a quicker time to get landscaping.

Of course, this also means the end of our fantastic view . . . unless of course topless construction workers are your cup of tea. And, it also means a lot of danger if any of the kids left the house unattended.

Most unfortunate though, is the confirmation that we will NOT be getting grass this year. Not even a paved drive way.

While I had been a bit prepared for that, I had not prepared myself for the envy I would feel as EVERY OTHER HOUSE in the ENTIRE development would have sidewalks and grass . . . in the next few weeks while we would remain and mud and gravel pit for another full year.

A sidewalk going in on the street across from us. Below is the grass already in on the first two rows of houses.

I was not prepared for how hard it would be on Guillermo to not have any grass. (Do you think it would complete our exterior "white trash" look if we added a 2x2 patch of grass on our junk/gravel pile to our front yard?)

And, while the absence of a yard in the winter time with kids in school and a newborn didn't seem to bother me much, the absence of a yard with all the kids at home over the summer is seeming to be almost impossible. (I keep telling myself that the improved winter commute for Brad was still worth all of this upcoming hardship--but it's hard to really remember how bad those commutes are now when everyone else has green lawns.)

In addition, it is hard to watch all our newly moved in neighbours excited and beautifying their yards with shrubs, potted plants, hanging baskets, etc. I caught the excitement too . . . and brought out some new planters and put in some flowers . . . but somehow, the devastation in our yard and junk piles beside our house take any beauty down several notches. I even wonder what the point really is. Perhaps it is a waste of time and money? And at the same time, I think I just need SOME kind of organic thing on our property to give hope of any plant life to come.

My feable attempt at having some organic life on our property.

But our developer has been kind enough to offer some additional upgrades on our house, free of charge.

First off, a MASSIVE swimming pool. (That MUST be what all that excavating next door is for!)

Secondly, they gave us a fifth bathroom. But somehow, I don't think it will increase the property value . . . or even help with the already sad curb appeal.

What do you think?

May 13, 2010

Things We Have Learned . . .

Coming into this whole house purchase as pure, naive property virgins, I feel we have done pretty well.

However, there are some lessons that we've learned. Particularly when purchasing a brand new home from a builder.

1. Don't accept the floor plan as is. You can ask to make changes . . . they may say no, but they also might say yes.

We did this with our house. The first request was dismissed. (We wanted to make the laundry room larger and extend it into the garage. NOPE.) The second, we got. The wall between the dining room and living room was removed. The third, moving the laundry room upstairs, was a NOPE, but at least they did ask.

However, after peeking in to some other models going up around here, I see DRASTIC changes made to floor plans. Huge walk out French doors all along the side of the house, four bedrooms and a loft turned into three large rooms. I now find myself a little upset that we didn't do this. There was a main floor that we LOVED but since it didn't have an option of a fifth bedroom, we threw it out of the mix. In the future, I know what I would do . . .

2. Buy first phase, but don't close right away.

Buying in the first phase can save you TONS of money . . . or MAKE you tons. It depends on how you look at it. Right now, our house has gone up about 60 grand. Not bad since it hasn't even been a year since we "purchased."

By delaying your closing, you may get extra choices in your finishings.

One couple was able to choose hand-scraped, wide plank hardwood--the exact stuff I'd have choosen, if it had only been available when I needed to choose.

3. Don't take the builder's stuff if you don't like it.

I REALLY wish I had been advised about this one. I didn't like much that the builder had. I should have requested that they not put in my hardwood, or tiles and gotten a rebate. Then, I should have hired out to my own flooring company to get exactly what I wanted.

While we did end up with stuff that looks nice, if this would be my final resting place, I would really regret this.

4. NEVER, NEVER close in the early spring. Or even early summer.

It means that your house was framed in winter or April showers and after I saw how sopping wet they get, I'd really be worried about mold if I were them. You always want to close in the late summer/early winter.

Speaking of winter, DON'T close in December.

November is the latest. Every tradesman takes off during Christmas and you sit around in a war-zone instead of a nice new house.

5. Forget flipping.

If it's just the two of you, or even three of you, then go on ahead. Get a small to medium house and flip it.

But for a family of 6 . . . and having a baby in the mix, a huge house is a ton of work to flip as easily as we once thought. (Let's not even get into the hassle of moving your stuff!) We might be here for quite some time.

6. Do WAIT to paint your house and purchase furnishings and accessories.

The best advice, thanks to my parents.

Over the summer I stressed about paint colours (only slighly important since I was picking out flooring and cabinet colours), and furniture. I wanted to have everything ready to go in: furnishings, granite counters, backsplashes, and lighting. You really do need to get a feel for a place to know what colour you want it, and to see how you use the space in order to know what furnishings you need for it. Not to mention, we had so many drywall issues, paint would have been wasted.

7. Buy larger.

If you are still in the "building phase" of life, buy with room to grow. Even if you plan to flip the house, you may be staying in the house longer than you thought and it is really nice to have the extra space. (Of course, so long as you can afford it.)

We were teetering between a 2900 sq ft house and the 3400 sq ft house with five bedrooms. SO glad we went bigger. The other place would have been too tight for the next three-four years.

8. Do get help.

Get design help from decorators (very handy for picking out the best from the worst builder's samples), but you can also go to lighting stores and paint suppliers who will offer great ideas and help you make good choices. In addition, my favourite store, PB also offers design classes. In a few weeks I'll be attending a paint colour selection class . . . and best of all, they offer a FREE gallon of Benjamin Moore paint!

9. Get your ducts cleaned ASAP.

They are disgusting. Plan to spent a couple of hundred on this.

10. Don't plan to move in on the day you close.

Plan for a week or so later to move in, depending on whether you will be cleaning ducts, putting in flooring or painting, etc, etc.

This is the third house bought from a builder by one of our new neighbours. They are obviously experts. They closed about two weeks before they moved in. Since closing, they have been busily painting, tiling, and hanging massive beasts from their ceilings. How nice would it be to move in and have everything done? If you know exactly what you want in terms of lighting/counters, etc, this is a fantastic idea. And, after three brand new houses, they seem to know exactly what they want.

Even with all the problems we've had with a new home, and all the surprises that have come with home ownership (and purchasing from a builder), I think it is safe to say that if the opportunity came to do it all over again, we would jump at the chance.

Only, the second time around, we would be a whole lot wiser. ;)

Frosh Week

I never went to Frosh Week.

(My application to BYU was mixed up and by the time we realized it, they could only accept me for the Winter Semester.)

I can imagine the excitement of meeting all the new students, trying to figure out who would be you best friend; curiously asking everyone what their major was, which classes and teachers they have; and which hall they were staying in and how they liked it.

However, we are having a "Frosh Week" of sorts here. Only without any initiations. ;) (Or at least not silly college ones . . . these ones make us head out in stormy, freezing cold weather with kids strapped to us or in tow, carting cupcakes.)

The other day we went out to meet our neighbours.

The builders have been busy lately and now the total of families in our area is up to 40.

Since I really don't have time to bake cupcakes for that many families, I figured we'd do as many as we could . . . which turned out to be 8. (Or fewer since some people weren't home.)

It was fun to meet the newest members of our development. The unique thing here is the genuine friendliness that EVERYONE exhibits. For people who are moving from various places in several different cities, it's really interesting how we are all so similar. And all so eagar to meet each other. (In the city, we kind of knew the neighbours on either side of us, but that was about it. No one really got to know people--maybe they didn't want to, maybe they just didn't know English, maybe they just didn't need to?)

Equally as fun was to see everyone's places.

"Which floor plan did you get?" "Did you make any changes?" "We chose _____ finishings, how about you?" were among the most popular topics of discussion.

I must admit, it was a little disheartening to see some people who have been in for only 6 days have their place painted, lighting all up, and everything furnished when we have been here 5 months and still have boxes out. (Ooops! In my defence, we moved in before Christmas, then I was hugely pregnant, and had a baby. And the box--only one--has a few art pieces that I haven't figured out where to place them.)

One couple has the exact house as us (slighly different floor plan), but with their 22 ft ceilings managed to paint their ENTIRE house AND put up a MASSIVE (like 5 ft tall) chandelier . . . BY THEMSELVES. Eeek.

I am sure Brad really regrets going around now. I usually pride myself on being an individual, not needing to keep up with anyone around me . . . but I definitely fell into the "keeping up with the Jones'" philosophy.

The chandelier I've been eyeing that is only 28" all of a sudden seems too tiny. And now we are going chandelier shopping this weekend.

And, after talking to this couple about how they ever hung that beast, or painted their house, we learned that they "borrowed" some scaffolding from the construction workers who were bricking the house next to them. Smart.

Now I am wondering: 1) Can I figure out a way to "borrow" scaffolding and somehow get it into my house? 2) Will I really feel safe up 22 ft, on scaffolding I put together myself? and 3) Could I possibly get the main floor painted in a weekend? (It's a LOT of wall!)

May 12, 2010


Some new pics of our sweetie, Livvie.

She is really turning out to be a great baby. The other night she slept 7 hrs . . . too bad Avery can't sleep longer than 3! Otherwise, I'd be a well rested mama!

Her favourite activites these days are hanging out in mom's sling while mom vaccuums or cleans up the house, chewing on her new Sophie the Giraffe, and of course living life up in her swing. (Mom can hardly wait to break out the jolly jumper . . . since her head is getting pretty steady, it won't be too much longer now!)

May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

To all those Mother's

who have given up their share of food because one of their children wanted double their share;

who have tempted the gods of kidney disease while putting off going to the bathroom when a child needed them more;

who have worked hard (cleaning poo, doing laundry, getting googly eyes out of ear canals, etc) for endless hours and never been fully appreciated;

who have sacrificed time, money, or personal sanity just for the hope that heir children will succeed or fulfill their dreams . . .

Happy Mother's Day!

May all the joys of Motherhood fill your heart with happiness. I hope that the potty training successes, first (and several thereafter) smiles of your children, and images of pleasantly sleeping children fill your mind and heart with smiles today. And mostly, I hope for lots of hugs and kisses of appreciation for all your hard work.

In addition to all the wonderful things you will be doing and possibly receiving, here are some great quotes I have found on Motherhood.

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan

Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love. ~Mildred B. Vermont

A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after. ~Peter De VriesThe phrase "working mother" is redundant. ~Jane Sellman

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

If the whole world were put into one scale, and my mother in the other, the whole world would kick the beam. ~Lord Langdale (Henry Bickersteth)

I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. ~Abraham Lincoln

Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together.

One of the very few reasons I had any respect for my mother when I was thirteen was because she would reach into the sink with her bare hands - bare hands - and pick up that lethal gunk and drop it into the garbage. To top that, I saw her reach into the wet garbage bag and fish around in there looking for a lost teaspoon. Bare hands - a kind of mad courage. ~Robert Fulghum

Before becoming a mother I had a hundred theories on how to bring up children. Now I have seven children and only one theory: Love them, especially when they least deserve to be loved.-- Kate Samperi

May 4, 2010

An Explosion

Last summer we made the hour drive up here weekly.

Every Sunday after church we'd pile into the car and drive up to see what, if anything, had been done in the construction site.

The excitement upon seeing them dig for the semi's was huge. That meant that soon they'd be digging for our house.

But it was still about a month before they even put a shovel in the ground on our lot.

They seemed to be working at a fastish pace, though not nearly fast enough for us who were dying with the crazy commute.

Once we moved in, the pace of digging, pouring, framing and finishing houses seemed to go even quicker than for our house. It was surprising since they were digging and building in the winter, and yet they were still going faster than for our place.

A big, empty construction site where our house pretty well stood alone turned into a bustling site where houses started obstructing the view of our house that formly was able to be seen miles away.

But nothing could have prepared me for the explosion that is happening now.

I remember the handyman saying that they were set to close about 75houses between May and August, and then another 75 between August and October. I thought I had misheard him.

I can honestly say that he was telling the truth.

We moved in when there were about 20 other families in at about the same time. The whole development is slated to have about 200 families. At the rate that they are going I wouldn't be surprised if everything (including the lonely lots next to ours) is finished by Christmas.

It has been pretty interesting living in a construction site. To see a field of weeds turn into a gorgeous new community is really exciting. Even more so is watching the landscape crew out there these days. (Granted, seeing them dump soil on top of the debris--and that is a loose term considering there were 2x6's, pallets, wiring and big aluminum scraps--they failed to clean up on our lot was distressing.) I am thrilled at the possibility of maybe getting grass in this summer . . . or at the very least, they are making the park right now and it should be ready for kids in a few months.

The view from our house onto a neighbouring street last August.

The view of the same place, yesterday.

Where Did I Come From?

I will be the first to admit that other than a very few newbie pics where she looked like me, Liv looks nothing like any of my baby pictures.

But then, she doesn't resemble Brad either.

We have thought, and thought, and thought some more to try and find any family resemblances . . . great-great-uncle Joe's cousin, Franny's husband's niece? We even tried the "easy-way-out" and concluded that she was switched at birth.

However, due to circumstances, it was pretty much near impossible that she was switched seeing as she was the only baby delivered in my house last February. :)

So, who does she look like?? Any takers?

Here are some baby photos of my other kids at about the same age as Liv. Let's make it interesting: the person who guesses the best wins bragging rights . . . and a children's book.

(While she doesn't have to resemble any of our kids, it might be helpful to guess who she is closest to. That will obviously narrow down which side of relatives--should you know any of them--since Jayden and Avery are certainly from Brad's side and Jackson is from mine.)

A) Jayden

B) Liv

C) Jackson

D) Avery

May 3, 2010


As I scroll through my list of "drafts" in my post list, I realize that I'm slightly behind.

My birthday? (Grimace.) I'll get to it. Along with Avery's birthday . . . from last October!

I thought I was doing great by posting a Two Months post about Liv only a week late . . . only I just realized I'm very much behind on the One Month post!

Then there is Easter, our vacation . . . and last summer's vacation!

Yes, behind. So very, very behind.

And that is just the digital things. I haven't even cracked open the boys' school year's memory books. (Jayden is almost done with grade one.)

Avery doesn't have a single picture in her baby book.

Liv doesn't have a single WORD in hers.

And our yearly album . . . not even started.

I need to figure out how to work in more hours in the day. Or at the very least, more uninterupted hours. :)

May 1, 2010

Two Months!

What a busy month Liv has had!

With all the agony in getting registered, getting a passport, and her first vacation, you wouldn't think she had time to learn any new tricks.

(Fortunately, her parents weathered all the stress and did all the leg work for her so she was able to play, learn a few new things, pack on pounds and then blissfully drink herself into milk comas.)

This past month she gained a whopping 3.5 pounds! (Mom is a little sad that she is growing too fast . . . If I'm going to lose my baby so quickly, at least transfer those pounds from my body to hers!)

Liv also learned how to hold her head up. For a long time. She's had some great neck muscles since she was born, but at about four weeks or so she had the strength to hold her head up for about five minutes at a time and boy did she have fun! She held it up as high and long as she could, turning it from one side to another to get a good look around at everything and everyone. Liv was so proud!

She learned how to LOVE baths. They seem to really calm her down when she has one of her many gas attacks.

Speaking of which, the poor little baby has such a hard time. I think she just eats too quickly and then fills her tummy with gas bubbles. They are really painful for her and I'm sure that most people who see her so cranky think she is a horrible baby. In truth, for every crying spell there is about one bucket of spit up or about 20 minutes of continuous, uhm, how should we put it, posterior gas releasing?

Smiles. Although she first smiled at a few weeks old, this was the month that she really began to smile on demand. Her sweet, fun loving personality really shines through wtih her cute smile. For now she only smiles for mom, dad, and the lights and fishes on her swing.

Cooing. For a while, the only sounds she made were cries and grunts. But, now she talks all the time in sweet little coos . . . and she even laughs!

Liv has learned early on that the smaller big people weren't safe to be around. She gets very nervous and even upset if Avery starts coming too close to her and has quickly discovered that being in Mom's arms are the safest place for her. Fortunately, no one understands the damage and pain that our kids can inflict more than Guillermo and he has gone into protective mode for little Livvie. Besides clearly marking her room several times (not exactly appreciated by me), he also sits by her as she plays on her gym mat. When any of the other kids come near, Guillermo is on his feet immediately circling Liv and growling at the kids.

We are glad to have our little Livvie in our home and are trying to soak in all the wonderful traits a newborn has before she grows out of this stage.