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Life Lately


Life has been fun and busy and crazy lately.  I’ve been enjoying life instead of writing about it, thus the lack of posts.  I have no idea what my plan is with this little blog of mine anymore.  Some days I feel really excited about writing about what we’re doing but most days I don’t have the enthusiasm for it.  It might be a month before I blog again, then poof, there will be a few posts in a row.  I know that stinks as a reader, I have given up many blogs in the past due to lack of activity on them.  I will forgive you for giving up mine, promise!  In the meantime, here’s what we’ve been up to lately.

Yesterday afternoon I took Brennan, his 2 friends and Aiden to a trampoline park about an hour away.  They had SO! MUCH! FUN!!!  I was totally convinced after 30 minutes they’d start to get tuckered out and I’d have some company in the waiting room.  Nope, they jumped the entire hour we paid for!!  They just loved it! I was a little jealous of all of their jumping, I wish I would have gotten myself a ticket, too.  IMG_2133IMG_2137IMG_2140

Do you know how hard it is to get a good picture of them while jumping? I need to learn how my camera works so I can change the setting off of ‘auto’ and capture these fun bouncing moments!

After the trampoline park we ran to DQ and got some ice cream.  Yum!


This silly little guy has found a new toy.  Actually, it’s a comfy spot for him to sit and rest with his Snuggle Blankie.  It’s the seat/bouncer that attaches to our baby swing!  A couple weeks ago 2 of my cousins came over for a play date with their little boys – one is 3 months old so I brought the bouncer up for him to sit in. Since it’s so dusty in the basement I haven’t taken it back down there to store. Well, Tatie Tot found it and has been obsessed with sitting in it ever since!!!  It cracks me up.  He can climb into and out of it all by himself. Sometimes he sits in it on his knees facing backwards and bounces himself.  He really cracks himself up doing that!

And speaking of climbing…


The big boys love climbing in the trees around here.  My folks came over one Sunday afternoon and my mom hoisted Tate up there with the big boys.  3 pictures and this was the best one, ha! 

And he climbed up on his Fisher Price parking garage.  First time he’d really climbed up on anything!!!  Next will be chairs!

Aside from all of that fun we had another bout with a stomach bug here at our house.  This one was much less nasty than the last one, thank goodness, but still – who wants to be sick?  Brennan was down with it for 5 days, basically really tired and diarrhea.  Then Tate had 2 days of nasty diapers.  Then Aiden got it Sunday night, threw up once and then just had a sore tummy all Monday.  Monday I had a sore tummy and was extremely tired but by Tuesday we were both mostly back to normal.  Then yesterday poor Andy got it.  Same as me, sore tummy and tired.  I am praying so hard that we are D-U-N, DONE, with sickness for the year!  Enough is enough!  And it’s freezing cold out again so I can’t open the windows and air the house out like I normally would.  Erg. Frustrating!

That’s been our life in a nutshell lately.  What have you been up to?

~ Erin

Sheep Shearing


A couple weekends ago my dad’s sheep were sheared.  I always loved shearing day as a kid so I’m really happy we were able to take the boys out there to watch how it’s done.


Could there be a better place to sit and watch the action take place then on top of all that hay? L to R : nephew Charley, niece Nora Jean, Aiden and Brennan


These are the tools Justin, the shearer, uses.  His clippers are electric and they run super fast compared to the kind of shears a barber uses to cut hair.  He takes very good care of his clippers, oiling them up more than once during a session (depends on how many sheep he is shearing).  He also wears special shoes.  They are made of leather, I think, and they prevent him from slipping on the plywood he shears the sheep on top of.  One thing I learned this year is that sheep’s wool has lanolin in it (you know, the same kind of lanolin in lotions and chapsticks!).  How cool is that?  All of that lanolin makes that plywood slippery so he wears those shoes instead of rubber soled boots. 


This guy enjoyed the action!


To begin with, Justin pulls a sheep out of the pen and lays it over onto it’s lower back/rump area. Then he tucks one of her front legs between his legs and sort of lays her head over his thigh.  He starts shearing her tummy and around her milk sack, then rearranges her a little bit and starts on her legs, then moves to her side, back and other side.  He finishes by giving her a haircut (well, shears any wool on top of her head).   It’s a really fast process, only takes 3-4 minutes per ewe.  If he was in a competition he could have it done in under 2 minutes!  (A lot of local fairs and the State Fair have shearing competitions, they are super fun and entertaining to watch!)


Once the ewe is sheared they gather up the wool and stuff it in a big, long burlap sack that they mount on the wall to make stuffing it easier. That’s my dad on the ladder stuffing the wool in.  And that’s Justin in the foreground pulling out another sheep and rolling her over to get started shearing.





They aren’t as cute and cuddly after, are they?

So, why do they get sheared? Well, first of all, the wool is worth some money.  How much, I have no idea.  Secondly, it’s almost lambing time.  If they have all of that fluff on them when they have a tiny newborn lambie in their pen with them they won’t feel that lamb and will lay down on them and suffocate them.  Plus, this is cleaner for the birthing process (you know, after birth and all that goo).

I hope you enjoyed your trip to the farm!


Basement Remodel


The basement reno is moving right along!  Everything in the bedroom/bathroom area is 100% gutted and removed. 

The boys had so much fun tearing everything down.  It’s exciting when you can see some major changes happening before your eyes. 

We ended up having quite the pile of junk!  It took Andy about 2 1/2 hours to haul all of this up to the dumpster.  He had help from the boys while I locked Tate and myself up in my bedroom so Tate would not get hurt or in the way.  Tate hated it. I, on the other hand, was not too upset I didn’t have to make all those trips up and down the stairs!


Isn’t that a mess?!?  It filled an entire 6yard dumpster.  We had the dumpster full a second time and then had them come get it out of here.  It was only in our driveway a week but I was already tired of seeing it there!

This little guy decided to chip in and help, too.


Here it is, all cleared out of the junk pile with just a little bit of carpet left to pull up.


Last week the locate guys came (they come and determine where your utilities are under the ground so you don’t dig them up or put a hole in the gas line).  We have to move both our gas and electrical services because of where the windows will go.  We also have to move our heat pump/AC unit, which is going to be a pain, but it’s necessary.

In addition to moving those things we have to relocate some of our shrubs and,  yippee (!!!), cut out some others!  I’ve hated these green giants since stepping foot in this house.  They scream ‘THIS HOUSE WAS BUILT AND FINISHED IN THE 80’S!!!!’.  We (meaning Andy) revved up the chainsaw and started cutting away at those ugly things!  When my brother in law comes with his backhoe to dig the holes for the windows he’ll pluck the root balls out of the ground.  The south side of the house looks so much cleaner now!  I’m already dreaming up which plants I’ll be planting along that side of the house when this is all done and over with.


Did you see all the flags in the first of these three pics? Those are the locate flags.  Looks colorful out there!


Goodbye hideous bushes!  I even talked Andy into cutting out the one at the front of the house next to the driveway!  It feels so much cleaner and nicer up there now.  Planning that flower bed out, too!  What a difference that made to get those out of there!  ‘Younged down’ our house a lot!  Now I need to take down and paint those hideous maroon shutters, ha! Always something, right?

Saturday morning we ran up to Menards (a hardware store chain) and bought the lumber for framing up the walls.  We moved all of those 2x4’s down to the basement through the tiny window that is currently there.  Worked really great! 

Aside from that purchase we have also bought the vanity and faucet for the bathroom.  Got ahead of ourselves there but they were both on sale so just went for it.  We had picked out the shower but now are worried about how much room there will be when they step out of the shower so are now considering a corner shower where the front is rounded so you step out more into the center of the room instead of directly in front of the shower.  Think that will work better.  Still a work in process, obviously.  And it’s a good thing we realized this before purchasing the shower.

I’m guessing this week or next our power company will come and relocate the lines and this weekend we will get the egress windows and window wells purchased so they are here for when they can cut the holes.  Things are moving along, it’s exciting!


Last Week


Last week the weather warmed up and it was amazing!  We were outside every afternoon soaking up that Vitamin D!


One afternoon I sat out in the lawn chair feeling the warmth of the sun while reading my favorite book of all time, Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you know I read this book on the regular.  I read it in 2 days, again couldn’t put it down!  Then I finally started (and finished!) Gone Girl.  Am I the last person on the planet to read this book?  After I finally got into it I couldn’t put it down.  Was anyone else disappointed in the ending? It was such an exciting book most of the way through, then the ending was just meh.  Doesn’t mean I didn’t really like it, though. And I’m ready to watch the movie, which I hear ends differently. 

One afternoon Tate discovered the sand box!  Boy did he love it!  We had to drag him out of there or I think he’d still be in there digging!  I loved that all three boys were in there together, just enjoying the nice weather.


Oh I can’t wait for these pictures to have more GREEN in them!

Wednesday afternoon the boys had an early out. While Tate was napping they decorated Easter eggs.  I found a new dye to try. With this one you roll the dye on with mini paint rollers.  It gave the eggs a more brilliant color, plus the boys could be more creative with it.  They turned out great!


This weekend we worked outside quite a bit.  Part of it was for the basement remodel, which I’ll share with you later.  Sunday, though, I did some work in my flower beds.  I cut down the ‘dead’ stuff from my sedums, hostas, clematis, and asters.  Then we cut back the berry bushes and raked out the leaves that had collected there over the winter.

Next up I power washed the screened in deck.  The siding gets a coating of dust on it and just doesn’t wash off with a hose.  I also PW’d the deck floor, that same dust is a mess out there!  And I washed the patio furniture. Felt good to get that job done, now I can sit out there and enjoy the deck on the nice days coming up this week and let Tate walk out there in his socks or bare feet. 

Another thing we did was go out to my folks’ farm to watch the sheep getting sheared.  I’ll get a post up about that this week, too.  It deserve it’s own post for sure. 

I hope your weather is as fabulous as ours has been!  Talk soon!


Brennan’s 6th Birthday Party


Saturday we had Brennie’s birthday party.  We went the snacks route and again, it was a big success!  My favorite ‘course’ is the appetizer course so doing this means I get to make some yummy dips and snacks.  I made Chili Dip, meatballs in BBQ sauce, Jalapeno Poppers (my all time favorite appetizer!) and had some celery and carrot chips to round things out. 


Instead of a birthday cake Bren requested pie for his birthday.  A-ok with me!  He asked for Cherry and Apple Pies and I threw in my personal favorite, too – Pumpkin!  I don’t think anyone missed the cake, I sure didn’t!  Bren is funny about cake – he always asks for some and then only takes one or two bites of it.  I guess he’s just not a cake fan.  (Who’s kid is this?)


When we were discussing which pie he was going to eat at his party we decided he should have a slim slice of each one.  He was all over that!

Side story: Aiden eats his slice of pie like you would a slice of pizza – picks it up and takes a bite!  Crazy kid!

Tate had his first few bits of pie and, well, even though his eyes don’t show how much he enjoyed it I think his face does!


After we all stuffed ourselves it was present time!  We gave Bren his gift on his birthday, which was a RED fishing pole and a tackle box full of fishing tackle.  He was very excited with all of this, but out of all the stuff in his box he was most excited about the multi-tool and stringer line, ha ha!

From others he was given 4 Lego sets, one of which was a tractor and planter set.  That was pretty cool!  We started putting it together that night. 


This guy was all about the Lego sets, too.  He was carrying them all over the rest of the night.  He’d put them down to point at something and say “oh!” 


I guess that means we have many more years of Legos in our future!

Bren had a great birthday and party!  Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate our guy with us! 


A Few Pretty Cards


It’s been awhile since I’ve shown off some of my card creations – mainly because it’s been awhile since I’ve made any!

March is another busy birthday month for our family.  We have 4 to celebrate this month!  Brennan, my sister Nicole, my niece Nora Jean and my MIL Vickie.

I don’t normally make cards for the boys because I know they will just get thrown away, plus they know the gifts are from me and Andy since we give them to them on their actual day and not at their party.  So, here are the cards for my sis, niece and MIL.


I always ALWAYS dislike at least one part of every card I make.  Whether it’s the embellishment, one of the papers I chose, the overall design, something.  But not this time! This time I was feeling it and I love every part of these 3 cards!  We have a wedding in April and I think I’ll make another card like the last one and use my ‘Congratulations’ stamp on it.  I just love the floral paper I used, it’s so simple and pretty. 

Talk soon!

Happy 6th Birthday, Brennie Joe!


Today is my sweet little Brennie Joe’s 6th birthday!  He is one of the Pea Pod, for sure!  I see so much of myself at age 6 in Brennan, such as his shyness around adults, his need to be good and not get in trouble, his common sense, his pickiness to food and his care for others and their feelings.  One of my most favorite things about Bren is how much he cares for me. This sounds selfish on my part but it shows just how caring and compassionate he is!  He always asks me how I’m doing, how was my day, wishes me a good day before jumping out of the car at school.  Sometimes he wanders over to me and just lays his cheek on my shoulder and rubs my back with his sweet little hand.  He thinks of me and my feelings, a very good trait to have.


I asked Brennie to answer the following questions, here are his answers.


  • Color – RED
  • Food – Pasta with alfredo sauce
  • Song – anything by the Beatles
  • Book/Character – Cat in the Hat
  • Subject at school – PE
  • Restaurant – Pizza Hut (for their pasta, ha!)

What I want to be when I grow up: an Engineer

My perfect day: go to Chicago, see Lake Michigan, go to the Lego Store

If I could go anywhere in the world I’d go to: Adventureland

Anything else people should know about you? Um, that I’m smart!

My best friends are: Chase and Nolan


Brennan is the best brother!  He just adores Aiden, wants to spend all of his time with him. And he is so good to Tate, always getting him toys and patting him on the head when he cries to make sure he is ok. 

He loves to help around the house, with cleaning, doing dishes and helping cook and bake.  Once in a while he whines when I ask him to do something for me, but mostly he just jumps in and helps without complaining.


Bren is a good reader and a good student.  He is a good friend to everyone and has been invited to ‘Fancy Lunch’ by 3 of his classmates this year.  He really loves school and is a big fan of his teacher, Mrs. M. 

If Brennan could do anything in the world I think he’d choose to go golfing and fishing with his Dad.  Every time we go by a golf course he points it out and says “Dad, we could go golfing there!”  He gets his clubs out a lot in the spring and summer and hits balls around the yard.  Shhh, don’t tell him but we got him his own fishing pole and tackle box full of tackle for his birthday!!! He’s going to go bananas!


Bren, I’m so proud to be your mommy!  You make me so happy and I love you so so much!  Happy Birthday, Buddy!

Basement Remodel


Good morning!  I’m super excited about this post because it means we are FINALLY remodeling our basement!  Yay! 

When we bought our house 3 1/2 years ago we knew we’d want to gut and redo the basement at some point.  It is a major blast from the past – totally early 80’s!  Oranges and browns, ick!  The carpet is the original carpet they put down when they finished the basement back then.  Amazingly it’s still in pretty good condition – tough stuff (and ugly!)!!  There is a bank of cabinets along one wall with an awesome ORANGE countertop.  The bathroom is a mess, we’ve not used it at all except for the occasional potty break.  It’s just wonky and weird.  The only good things about the basement in it’s current condition are the 2 HUGE storage rooms, the storage closet under the stairs and the size of it. 

Last Fall when we found out we were pregnant we decided to move the basement reno up the list of things to do in the house so we could put 2 bedrooms down there for the big boys.  We told the boys all about it which got them very excited. Then we miscarried and the need wasn’t as big. But we decided we couldn’t disappoint the boys since they were so excited, so, full steam ahead!

The most important part of the reno is installing egress windows.  Right now there is one small window in what will be Brennan’s room.  It’s about 12x24”, definitely doesn’t meet the requirements for egress.  With it still being subarctic here we can’t start digging out the window wells and cutting the wall to install the new windows until the ground thaws, which will be April at the earliest.  In the meantime we have started the gutting process.  Fun! 

Before I get too far into that, let me show you the ugliness that was our basement.

Our basement is a big ‘L’.  This first picture looks into the short part of the ‘L’, which is the clear back of the basement and where the 2 bedrooms will be.  This wall with the big opening and window opening in it will be one solid wall, and where the long picture is all the way to the right, that will be the hallway back to the bedrooms and bathroom.



This is the awful bathroom.  It’s clean, yes, but the floor is not level, the shower is scary and not properly plumbed and the vanity is disgusting.  I was beyond excited to start ripping this faux tile sheeting off the walls!


To the left of this picture is the short side of the ‘L’, so you are now looking at the long part of the ‘L’.  This is the living room area.  The two doors go to the furnace/storage room and the closet under the stairs.  To the right you can see the cabinets and orange countertop.  This room is staying as is until next year – we are trying to spread the cost of the project out a bit.  The priority this spring is the bedrooms, hallway and bathroom.


This is looking back at the last picture.  Notice the lovely parquet linoleum floor!  See right next to the stairs the slide? The boys love that!  A little bummed that will go when we redo the stairs but really, it’s just taking up space. 


So, you can see it’s an ugly mess.  I have not had any way to really organize the toys down there, it’s just a cluster you-know-what.  I hate that about the basement!  And when they ‘finished’ the basement they didn’t put any 2x4’s, insulation and drywall on the poured foundation walls so it’s pretty chilly down there.  I’m really excited for it to be a more livable part of our house.

Tuesday night we went down there and started going to town.  The boys had so much fun ripping into things! So did Andy and I!  To start, Andy pulled down all the ceiling tiles in the bedroom area.  (Remember, that’s all we’re working on for now.)  The boys stacked them up for him.  After that we started pulling the trim off around the doors, then pulled the closet doors off.  Andy pulled the drop ceiling grid down, too. 


Wednesday night we worked on pulling the wall board and drywall off.  We got down to the studs for the most part which is really exciting.  We have quite the mess!  Once the GIANT dumpster shows up (hopefully today!) we’ll start hauling the junk upstairs so we can rip the carpet and linoleum up.  That’s going to be a job, we’re all going to be sore from going up and down the stairs so much to get the junk out of there!  We will finish gutting the bathroom once the dumpster arrives. When that’s done we’ll pretty much be down to the barebones and will be able to start laying out the hallway, bedrooms and bathroom. 


We are going to do as much as we can without the new windows put in.  If I remember right we can pretty much have everything but the outside wall framed up.  With all of that framing done we can get the electrician in here to get things mostly wired.  We’ll also get the shower installed. It needs to be at least sitting in the bathroom before we frame that up. 

Yesterday we went to the hardware store and started picking finishes out.  Nothing cemented in place, just getting ideas and trying to agree on things like tile and doors.  It was a lot of fun!  Paying for it will not be!  Getting this project going has been so much fun, hopefully we don’t get burned out on it and can keep the momentum going!  Since demo is almost done we’ll soon be moving on to another phase which will keep things exciting.  The boys have had so much fun with this and want to be involved and helping in every aspect, which is great! This is how they learn how things work.  I just hope they don’t get burned out, either.  After we got the old closets taken apart, which is where the new hallway goes, they were pretending they were walking down the hallway into their new rooms.  Fun and exciting!!!  I remember doing that when my parent’s built our house.  They’ll be even more excited when the walls are framed and they can really see what their new space will be like! 

Spring, hurry up and get here so we can cut those massive holes in our foundation and get the windows in!