October 12, 2014

Wasn't it just Summer?

You know how on the first day of school everybody takes a picture of their kids in front of their house before they head off for the monumental day? We did that too. But we didn't post the pictures because I thought it would be much more fun to include it in a post about our crazy summer.

Then we blinked and our kids have been in school for nearly two months.


This is more evidence here of how I'm not nearly as organized as people sometimes think I am. It always floors me when people make comments about how I'm "so organized" or "have it together." 

Nope. Not even a little.

This is why I am doing a summer update post in OCTOBER.

To be fair, we did actually have a really, really crazy last few months. But things are starting to settle down now, so I'm hoping this is the beginning of a new era. (One where I write a post more than once every three months!)


Honestly the whole month of June was pretty non-eventful. For the life of me I can't figure out why we don't go to school through June in South Dakota, and then start again in October. June is almost always rainy and miserable and September is always gorgeous. But I don't make the rules so we began the summer picking out days here and there that were warm and dry enough to do something besides hang out in the house.

We did manage to get a few pool days in (but not many!) and a few strawberries picked.

Meili loves, loves, LOVES strawberries. She has been known to eat over a pound at a time.

Tyler loves pie about as much as Meili loves strawberries, so we managed to get a few of those in too.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I don't think there are too many things that taste much better than a homemade fresh strawberry pie.


Enter the chaos! It was a welcome chaos because we were finally able to escape to some warm weather! We were fortunate to be able to take a trip to see my brother and sister-in-law in the beginning of July. They live on a lovely little island off the Southern coast of Georgia; Saint Simons Island. 

St. Simons has four things I like very, very much: Sun, Ocean, Beach, Family. 

Jenna and I are alike in a lot of ways, so I'm not surprised that she agreed with me that a day at the beach is pretty much about the best way to spend a day. Ever.
She and I did a little research before we left. We decided this midwestern family was going to build a real, legit sandcastle.

I think we pulled it off pretty darn well!

We were so relaxed on this trip, Jon didn't even take his camera most of the time. We don't even have any pics of the other great things we did: fishing with my sister-in-law's father, jumping off the dock with Uncle Cam, eating pork poppers at Sweet Mama's, finding sea stars and sand dollars, having the best.fried.shrimp.ever at B&J's, fun nights out with one of my favorite couples...

As sad as I am that I my brother doesn't live closer to us, I'm so thankful that they are close to his wife's family. They took us in like their own and invited us to their fabulous Southern-style July 4th backyard barbeque. We had an amazing meal, complete with hand-cranked homemade fresh peach ice cream, had a few fireworks there and later watched a display from right on the beach at nearby Sea Island.

I think I left a little piece of my heart on St. Simons. I even made Jon call a realtor about a cute little house a block away from my brother! I mean, he can always work remotely, right?!? Too bad the sale was already pending, because if he had been up for it, I would have been perfectly OK with becoming and islander.

About a week after we returned home from St. Simons we had scheduled a trip to the Black Hills with my parents. Somehow we failed to get any pictures of this! We took an extra day and spent a long weekend in the Hills, which is always fun. We did some serious hiking (how did that 2 mile hike turn into a 7 mile hike?!?), had lots of campfire food and enjoyed the outdoors.

The next weekend, we had scheduled a trip to see Jon's cousins in Northern Minnesota. They had recently added a pool and we thought this would be a great opportunity for us all to spend some time together.

Thankfully it was heated, so the 70 degree weather did not deter us!

Traveling every weekend made July feel like a little bit of a rat race, but we enjoyed all of the trips and spending so much time with our extended family. 

In additional to all of this, we had been trying to make some updates to our home. Things that would need to be done if we sold it, or just things we would enjoy if we stayed in it. Ever since bringing Meili home, our house had felt a bit cramped. As tiny as she is, adding that extra person made it nearly impossible to all eat around our table in our dining room or for me to cook a meal in our small kitchen without bumping into a kid who was running through on their way out the back door.

We had been "keeping our eyes open" for other houses for about 18 months. We loved, I mean really loved our little 50's ranch home. Everything about it worked wonderfully for us, except that kitchen and dining space. A very talented architect friend of ours even put together some plans for how we could improve our space, but the city ordinances prevented us from doing every single thing we wanted to do. Aside from reconfiguring the space to make it more efficient (which carried a hefty price tag and gained us no square footage) there was really nothing we could do.

After looking for 18 months, we knew what we wanted. We didn't want to be in one of the new developments on the edge of town; we liked the middle. We didn't want a house similar to everyone else's (which here is a split foyer with a strikingly similar floor plan to the neighbors). We wanted it to be large enough for us to grow into as the kids get older and have more friends over. We did not want to do lots of updating. And we had a budget. After searching for so long, we determined this house did not exist in our town. We decided to go ahead with the pricey renovation to make our existing home more efficient. 

About a day after we decided this, a friend called. "I'm selling and I hear you're looking," he said. We decided to see the home, assuming it would be yet another house we didn't like. After we finished, we both sat in the car quietly. Jon looked at me and finally said, "That was AWESOME." 

It was large, it was custom built, unlike any we'd seen, it was built WELL, it was in a wonderful part of town and we already knew some of the neighbors. And the price was do-able. 

We spent several weeks praying and talking about it and ended up making an offer and listing our home in the middle of July. We listed it ourselves because we wanted to get a certain dollar amount out of it for the down payment on the new one. We were prepared to walk away if we didn't get what we needed. Thankfully, we had multiple offers and our house sold in the first 24 hours.

So August became "moving month."

We took one last photo with our cute little mid-century home. It was a very bittersweet day. I still avoid driving by it because it makes me tear up. This home was good to us. We were so grateful for this house and so blessed during the time we lived here. We left behind some wonderful, wonderful neighbors and a great location a block from our kids' school. A good friend told me the first home is the hardest to let go of and I think she's right! I'm having a terrible time! To avoid getting all emotional, I try to pray for the young couple that bought it - that they would be as blessed in this home as we were.

We were set to close on the first day of school, but were able to push it forward a few days fearing that that might be a bit "much" for our kiddos (and us!). They'd stayed here two nights before school started. 

Without further ado - the obligatory first day of school/new house picture (roughly 47 days after school started)!

We've decided not to show a lot of pictures because although we love the space, it does not feel like "ours" yet. We don't plan to do many projects, but we do need some paint, and a few other little things here and there. Instead, we'll do before & after shots when we make progress! The part you see in this picture already looks different :)

With traveling, packing and moving, our summer totally disappeared. No more lazy days by the pool or sleeping in. No more beautiful island beaches (sniff sniff). Those have been replaced with lots of scheduling, unpacking, organizing, paint sampling, homework doing and lunch packing.

And so, on to a new chapter! One where we can not only ALL fit around our dining room table, but where there is room for others as well! We've already been able to entertain more people in this home than we had in the last several years combined in our previous home. We are looking forward to making this house into a place where we can raise our family and build many more relationships. And maybe, maybe, if I get my act together, even do a little more blogging ;)


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