Monday, January 17, 2011

Modern-day Farm

When Diggy’s teacher at church asked the class yesterday if anyone had done something fun during the last week, Diggy said, “I smashed my hammer through the wall in my parents’ bathroom.”

Jan 2011 027This is actually Kenny…with Brent in the background. 

When we picked our house a few years back, we looked for one that needed a bit of work…because Brent enjoys tearing holes in walls and he’s quite talented at patiently inspiring the kids to work alongside him. The Perfect Modern-day Farm.

The kids were ages 6 down to 6 weeks at the time (minus Cienna). Their attention spans were quite short and needy and the projects were quite long and tedious. I remember wiping away the gritty grout residue on our new entryway tile until midnight one night, grumbling about the whole modern-day farm idea…knowing the kids would be up around 6 a.m. with lots of energy and the work not yet done.

So, after necessary roofing, flooring, painting, and some kitchen work, it’s been awhile since we’ve embarked on a major project. We’re perfectly happy with our old bathrooms…I thought.

But on Friday night, Brent started talking about the specifics of our master bath. He wants to do a major re-hall. I’d been hesitant, but finally agreed to his plans. I thought we were still months away from starting, but then again, have I ever shared how quick of a mover Brent is? Engaged after dating two months?? (Best decision I ever made!) Well, hammers went flying Saturday at noon…and THIS time, the Modern-day Farm is working at full capacity.

Brent had all 5 kids at his side for several hours on Saturday while I was out to lunch with a friend . They were all very excited to show-off their hard work when I returned…partially because I didn’t know they were going to start yet.  

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Kirsten, now the age of Kenny when we’d moved here, enjoyed several hours of getting down and dusty (both on Saturday and Monday)…hammering down walls and prying up floors.

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Allison chopped away like a cute three-year-old would, making up stories as she went and enjoying the mess. Apparently she was making a bird’s nest in the “sand.” After getting in PJS, she bid a sweet farewell to the little tiles she’d enjoyed all day…knowing they were getting replaced…Good-byes can be hard. 

Jan 2011 044 Cienna primarily enjoyed the masks…which came in handy because her other favorite part was trying to sneak “rocks” into her mouth. Cement chips and dirt inside the house…it was a dream come true!

 Jan 2011 037 Jan 2011 047 But the BIG farm story comes from our two strapping boys who never tired of  hammering, chipping away tile, and hauling debris out to the garage all day Saturday, saying things like, “We’ve really used this Saturday well” and not even wincing when their hands received the scrapes and blisters from hardy work.

And after a day of rest, they voluntarily (and with great excitement and anticipation…and we didn’t bribe them or offer any form of reward or payment) went to bed early so they could join Brent at the break of dawn (on MLK Jr. holiday)…at 5:30 a.m…the approximate time that I believe they would’ve milked cows back in the day…and they proudly worked for more than 12 hours…SUCCESS!! 

(I keep saying “they” because as a pregnant mother of young children who still fall in the short-attention span range, there’s not much I can do to help…so the girls and I had another pink-nightgown sleepover in the girls’ room in order to preserve our beauty sleep amidst all the noisy hammering…another success. ;)

I’ll try to remember to post pictures of the finished project…in a few months…because tomorrow we all have to go back to our day-jobs.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thank You Aunt Pam (and Associates)!!

We had in interesting drive home from AZ last week…


9:00 a.m. ~ The kids vote to take the drive to IL straight through (without stopping at hotels) so we can stay as long as possible at Nana and Papa’s. We decide to leave late afternoon instead of now to arrive home by Friday late evening.

2:30 p.m. ~ The UPS truck stops at Nana’s house. The package sits in the foyer unopened…it was probably another gift for Rex and Emily (the newlyweds).

3:00 p.m ~ shows a storm finishing it’s way through the Northern AZ mountains. We hear rumors that some roads are closed, but efforts to receive confirmations or info on re-openings failed.

3:30 p.m ~ My fearless husband decides to see for himself if roads are closed…hoping that because the storm had mostly passed, the roads would be open by the time we reach them before dark. We jump in the van.

3:32 p.m. ~ Nana rushes out to the van after realizing the newly arrived package had come from Aunt Pam…the maker of the Matching Family Nightgowns that EVERY girl in her extended family covets. Pam had called on Christmas Day (I think) to get the Smith girls’ measurements and not only worked endless holiday hours, but also overnighted (I assume) the finished projects to us, hoping they would arrive before we left…and they did!

4:30 p.m. ~ Driving through the first mountainous ranges in Northern AZ, the sun is shining and the roads are clear (but noticeably empty).

5:00 p.m. ~ We make it easily to Payson, AZ…where the road closures had been reported.

5:05 p.m. ~ The road heading out of Payson is closed. We wait in a long line of cars…until we hear that police are only allowing  cars with chains or 4WD through..possibly for another day or two. Our trusty van has neither.

5:25 p.m. ~ We turn around. We make a few comments about how AZ could use a more timely snow plowing system because the skies are clear, but the roads in this town are a mess…causing unnecessary delays.

5:27 p.m. ~ Going about 30 mph, we hit a patch of black ice, we swerve to the left and to the right, Brent says, “Hold On” and our swerving turns into a full 360. The unplowed slush in the middle of the 4-lane road stops us. Thankfully no other cars were near at the moment. We all breathe a sigh of relief…and I think a prayer of gratitude that AZ is not as snow-plow savvy as IL (the black ice would’ve been there without the heavy slush in the middle) and that wise police officers don’t let vehicles like ours commence traveling on dangerous roads.

5:30 p.m. ~ Allison says, “That circle gave me a headache!” But, the kids are excited that their hope of staying longer at Nana and Papa’s will come true after all…or maybe not.

5:40 p.m. ~ We discover why the roads coming in to Payson looked so empty…the road going back south is closed as well.

6:00 p.m. ~ We check into a hotel…all wishing we were still at Nana’s.

6:15 p.m. ~ The girls all quickly slip into their new cotton-candy-pink nightgowns…and the Princess Party begins (the boys watched football or something)!

10:00 p.m. ~ Kirsti says, “Mom, you’re the queen and we’re the three princesses,” as me and my three girls snuggle up close and turn out the lights. I lay in bed wondering if Aunt Pam (and her elf helpers…you know who you are) had any idea how useful their handiwork would be for us on the very first night. Their extreme effort and thoughtfulness turned our extreme situation into a memorable miracle. We can’t thank you enough for your generosity and timeliness!!

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10:00 a.m. ~ Brent takes the van for an alignment check (after our swirling adventure) and returns to the hotel with chains for our tires.

11:00 a.m. ~ Brent drives a homeless couple to the grocery store and buys them food for a few days.  

12:00 p.m. ~ The drive home continues. I admire the smile on Brent’s face as he puts the chains on our tires. He truly loves adventure…and the unknown.

Drive Home from AZ 2010 004Drive Home from AZ 2010 005 

2:00 p.m. ~ The roads through the mountains of AZ are horrible…very unplowed and unsafe for the average vehicle.  But with chains, we make it through without a single slip. My brother calls and thinks we have taken a detour to Disneyland because the chains sound like multiple ascending roller coasters. I tell him the chains’ vibrations make us feel like we’re on a roller coaster.

Drive Home from AZ 2010 003 This is Allison a few minutes before my brother called…she agreed with the roller coaster theory and enjoyed the ride…notice the anti-carsickness bands on her wrists…Thanks GG!!

3:00 p.m. ~ Once we hit New Mexico, the roads were clear and we didn’t see a single drop of rain or snow the rest of the trip. We think it’s ironic that our worst driving weather in both directions was only in AZ. Something my parents  (in the good ol’ Midwest) will be reminding us for years to come, I’m sure.


12:00 a.m. ~ We count down to midnight with those who are awake in the car. But in reality, we had technically missed a true countdown because we happened to cross time zones at 11:30 p.m., thus changing our clocks to 12:30 a.m. in a time zone that had already welcomed the New Year.  Thanks for the memories Oklahoma!

3:00 p.m. ~ Home Sweet Home!