Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dancing With The ...Elves?

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

A Hoedown?

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Doing the Charleston

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Ok, it's cute when the kids do it, but this is downright hilarious! Apparently, the kids come from a long line of talented dancing elves!!!!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Fun Facts About House Hunting

17 The number of years we've lived in this house

16 The number of years we've been looking for a house with more land

10 gazillion The number of houses we've walked through

6 The number of offers we've made on a house

4 The number of those houses (including the one in which we now live and our new house) within 15 miles of each other on the same county road

1 The number of those houses that were 300 miles away

4 The number of those houses I absolutely loved

4 The number of hours we waited before calling in a verbal offer on our first house

5 The number of children we've welcomed home here

2.4 The number of acres we have here

11 The number of acres at the second house we bid on

12 The number of days we were in this contract before we voided it because we discovered the septic holding tank was under the garage floor covered with a sheet of steel

18 The number of inches high the crawl space of that house was into which the sewage was leaking

0 The number of houses still standing on that property, still for sale 9 years later

15 The number of inches thick the log walls of the third house were

5 The number of acres at the third house

9 The number of inches of bat guano lurking in the attic of this home, resulting in our voiding the contract after the inspection

2 The number of years later that Mr. GT's branch company near this home closed (glad we didn't move 300 miles away!)

1 The number of offers we put in which weren't accepted

10,000 The number of dollars apart we were on this fourth offer

21 The number of acres at this fourth property

12 The number of acres at the fifth house

4 The number of Black Labs living in this house

2 The number of piles of dog doo we stepped over during the showing

1/4 The number of miles we were outside of our school district boundaries

1 The number of days our dream farm went on the market after our offer was accepted

1000s The amount of money we lost by pulling out of this contract

6 The number of months we waited before looking at the dream farm

3 The number of times the closing date was moved during this sale

7.8 The number of acres Mr. GT and the kids will be romping on at our new house

3 The number of miles away we are moving

Priceless Making your dreams come true.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Own Two Houses!

Well, Mr. GT and I are now the proud owners of two houses!

We've lived in our current house for 17 years. When we bought it, it was an absolute steal by today's prices. The subdivision across the street was still a farm with cows on it. The housing market hadn't ballooned in our area. We got an old farmhouse-type home on 2.5 acres in town and a creek to boot! The value has about tripled since then.

Even so, everything else we've ever looked at in those 17 years (and we've looked A LOT!)has been JUUUUUUUST out of our reach, price-wise. We live on one income and we're frugal. Mr. GT wasn't willing to carry a mortgage that would put us under if we missed a month's payment.

So we waited on his dream of being out in the country for real. We looked and we looked and we waited. Every so often, we'd get on a moving kick and go looking at houses and would find one and put an offer on it.

Five times we put in offers. Four times they didn't work out.

In the meantime, we lived life and paid off our mortgage. We paid off four cars. We added five children to our family. We put an addition on our 1100 sq. ft. little farmhouse and almost doubled the size.

We bought a piece of land out in the country on which to build. A hair too far from our community. In a different school district. Mr. GT loved it and I pretended to.

And we waited.

While we waited, a house not far from us, the prettiest little farm, came on the market. For just a hair more than we could afford. Five or six years later, it was for sale again. Now we could afford what it had been the first time, but the price had increase, of course, and again it was out of reach.

We put an offer on a different house, a really great deal! The next day, our dream farm was up for sale again and this time we could have made it work. Except for the house we had just "bought."

For all sorts of reasons, we ended up pulling out of the contract (don't do this!) on the great-deal house. Shell-shocked, we swore we were staying put forever.

Fast forward six months and no one has purchased the dream farm. The sellers are getting desperate, the market is failing, and fall was fast approaching. They dropped the price.

The house on the dream farm was 500 sq. ft smaller than our current house. It's in the wrong school district by about 1/2 a mile. There were lots of things that could be wrong about moving there. On a whim, Mr. GT decided we should go look at the house (we'd never been inside or looked at the property).

And he fell in love.

Long story short, it fit my criteria for being accessible to our community and the nearest large city. The house was an old farm house. It has a walk-up attic (oh, I've always wanted one!) The land was open and copious. There's room for animals and a workshop and a garden and fruit trees. There's a tire swing and a barn with secret rooms and a chicken coop.

So once again we put in an offer. And we waited.

We sold our land for a profit to a lovely couple from Chicago (Bill and Dave). They plan to retire there.

Our offer was accepted, our closing date came and went. The current owners graciously extended the closing date. There was a steady parade of viewers through our current house, but no offers. Mr. GT began to panic at the thought of holding two houses, but we we stuck it out and again our closing date approached.

This time, we kept the appointment, we signed the papers, we paid the check and the old owners took off in their RV to work on Habitat for Humanity projects.

We own two houses!


Rose Bud and Dodo (her next door best friend) are out plowing around in the snow, hiking up and down the hill to the prairie and just sharing friendship (and snowballs). It's so good to see them out in their snowpants and hats and mittens just having fun. Just plain fun with someone you've been best friends since you were babies is all too rare for 13 year olds these days.

Pepper and LayleyHey (her next door best friend) have 12 inches of new snow to play in. They are bundled to their noses in pink and purple. And what are they doing? Swinging on the swingset! I think Pepper swung for half an hour!

(They do have a snow fort they are working on, too. Code name: UTD)

Mrs. Hey, next door, is snowblowing her driveway. Her husband plows for the next town over, so he's probably been gone since 2 this morning. You know, the shoemaker's children never have shoes. Anyway, she thinks she's getting into the Hottest Wife on the Block contest, but I have to say, she is no match out there in her frilly, furry suede jacket and fuzzy boots. Any woman knows that you get more Hot Points for wearing HIS snowsuit!

The four big kids shoveled off the deck this morning. Isn't that sweet of them? Yeah. They needed it cleared off so they could sprinkle birdseed all over it so the cat would have something to watch.

Sunshine LOVED the snow today! He came out with Mr. GT and me. He had no qualms about plowing through the 12" across the driveway. He waded through and then followed Mr. GT down the path he was making with the snowblower. it was very cute. He waved to Rose Bud and Dodo up on the prairie. He got invited into the UTD by the girls. He pushed the shovel around a bit.

Now Banana Boy is actually PLAYING with Sunshine in the house! Just recently, Sunshine has become more "playable" and apparently Banana Boy has just recently developed more patience! They are collecting stuffed animals and having a parade.

So all is peace and love at my house today in the midst of the storm outside.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Friday, December 12, 2008

Things That Crack Me Up

Pepper cracks me up. She couldn't get this cotton to stick to her face while she was standing up, so she lay down on the rug so it wouldn't fall off

I know Baby Jesus isn't supposed to be funny, but my kids arranging the manger cracks me up every time!  Something about all those people and critters clustered in so tightly.  My very favorite in this picture is the sheep right smack in the middle of the picture, right in front of the manger.  Little People sheep crack me up.

Sunshine in glasses cracks me up.  The funniest thing was, after he took them off, I thought he looked odd, like someone who wasn't wearing their glasses!  If he ever needs glasses, I guess we won't have to search long for a style that fits him!

Happy Cracking!

Are Y'All Reading My Homeschool Blog?????

Small Things With Great Love

I moved it, you know. I know, I know, I don't post there that much, but you could leave me a comment once in a while.

I'm going to be biting the bullet and unloading some homeschooling stuff over there that I don't think I need any more, so if you're in the market for new (to you) stuff, check it out. I hope to have it up by the end of the month. I'm such a curriculum junkie. I buy stuff because everyone says how great it is and then I can't get rid of it because one of my kids MIGHT need it some day. But it is ridiculous to hold onto it if I'm not using it, right? And I can't use everything. There's not enough time in the day, right?

So big sale at my other blog, coming soon!

Ho Ho Ho With Sunshine

For Nonny....

Here is the pop-up book. Daisy and Banana Boy put it together last night.

BTW, you might think I'm really dopey for getting so excited about my 3.5 yo son saying Merry Christmas. Well, in his world, that IS a big deal! it is still a struggle for him to put two words together in such rapid succession. And you can clearly tell his pronunciation is WAY delayed! So Mommy was SO excited that he could get Merry Christmas out! Go, Baby!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

If Your Kids Aren't Cooking Your Thanksgiving Meal...

...they should be!

Mine were such a big help on Wednesday (we're talking last week, the day before Thanksgiving...I'm that behind in posting). I think it has something to do in the phrasing. I don't ask them to cook. I say, "Who's making the green beans this year???"

Rose Bud pounces on that. "ME! I ALWAYS make the green beans." Okie Dokie, then.

Daisy, not wanting to be outdone, jumps in with "I get (GET, not want, but GET. It's a privilege) to make the cranberries!"

Pepper: "I do the jello!"

Banana Boy: "What do I make????" Oh, Sweetheart, YOU get to make the sweet potatoes this year. A chorus of Yays.

"Me do??" Sunshine, my sweet darling, you are going to help Mama make the stuffing. What better job for a 3 year old than to be given a shaker of something to shake over a big bowl of croutons?? Here, Honey. Shake this. This is sage. shake, shake shake. Ok, that's good. Now shake this salt.shake, shake shake.shake, shake shake.shake, shake shake. That's good. That's GOOD. Ok. Stop. STOP!!!! Ditto with the pepper and the thyme.

Apple-Sausage Stuffing
1 loaf day old bread, cut in 1/2" cubes
1/2 lb. pork sausage
1 c. celery
1 c. onion
2-3 apples, chopped
2-3 c. chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. fresh parsely
thyme, rosemary, sage to taste

Cook pork sausage. Saute onion and celery in pork drippings. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Bake in greased casserole until top is brown and the middle is hot.

Rose Bud is like the wind. I didn't get any pictures of her making her green beans. She did do it all herself. She also mixed up the spices for me to rub on the turkey. She had great fun picking out what to put in. I did allow some tandoori seasoning, but drew the line at pizza seasoning. In spite of her 4 attempts to add it, our turkey was not pizza-flavored this year.

Green Bean Casserole recipe right off the can of french-fried onions

Turkey rub: Combine a bunch of shakes of your favorite turkeyish spices in a bowl. Maybe 2 t. of each. We used sage, thyme, rosemary (pine needles, Pepper calls them), salt, pepper, tandoori seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, crushed bay leaves. Stick your hand (and part of your arm, if it's a big turkey--you'll want short sleeves for this task) under the skin of the turkey, loosening it from over the meaty parts. Rub combined spices under skin over meat. Dump the extras inside the turkey, front and back. Cook in an oven bag. Mmm, mmmm. Perfect every time.

Daisy is obsessed with our new yummy cranberry recipe. New is relative, I guess. We've been making it for 3 years, but it's our newest Thanksgiving staple.

Marni's Cranberries
1 1/2 bags fresh whole cranberries, rinsed
1 orange (I wash it with dish soap and hot water to remove the wax)
1 c. sugar or to taste

Toss the cranberries into a food processor. Cut the ends off the orange and slice it into eighths, leaving the peel on. Take out the white pithy center core thingy and toss the slices into the food processor along with the sugar. Whir until finely chopped. Chill overnight before serving.

Pepper is our jello maker. She just loves to make jello and has been making this jello for 3 years now (although we've been serving it for over 10)

Grace's Jello
1 large or 2 small boxes jello (we like cranberry at Thanksgiving)
1 can raspberry pie filling
1 cup sour cream at room temp.
1 cup boiling water

Dissolve jello in boiling water. Chill 45 minutes. Whisk in sour cream and pie filling. Chill overnight. Serve with whipped cream on top. You can use any jello and pie filling that is appealing. The classic combo is rasp. jello w/ blueberry filling.

Chopping and food processing was a perfect job for Banana Boy.

Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups cooked sweet potatoes
1/2 c. evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/4 c. melted butter
1/4 c. sugar

Blend in a food processor until smooth. Pour into a casserole (we have a ceramic pie plate we use)

1/4 c. melted butter
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. crushed corn flakes
1/4 c. chopped pecans

Mix well and sprinkle over sweet potato. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Daisy made a snow turkey.

The girls made the Thanksgiving placecards.

Mr. GT stayed home sick from work. This means he was REALLY sick. He helped out by entertaining Sunshine.

He was REALLY, REALLY sick