Monday, June 23, 2014

Simply Stand

Many years ago I was talking to a friend about the inevitable ebbs and flows of life.  We decided the idea you have good times and then some bad times and them some good times is really not quite true.  Actually, it seems to me at least, you have good times and bad times right on top of each other, rolling in like waves.  It's sort of the perfect metaphor for my life lately. 

We have some amazing things happening.  Every day we are getting closer to building our dream house on our dream land where our dream ducks already live.  I took this picture of the sunset on Saturday night from the dock.  Pretty blessed, right?

In the midst of all this dream building, however, have been some pretty terrible times.  My Uncle who I adored passed away unexpectedly, my husband is recovering from back surgery, and my work circumstances have changed.  There are so many layers involved in the whole work deal that navigating the depths of that experience alone is exhausting.  So, it's much less dealing with the rain and you then you get a rainbow, and more like eating a few bites of brownie and then having to choke down some pickled beets.  All at the same time. Yep, I hate beets.  No good come from those.  

Trying to just emotionally deal with all this stuff whilst living in a 900 sq ft A frame with all these kids and all these dogs, as well as my recovering back patient has often felt like the wave is all on top of me and I'm searching for the surface.  Honestly, I am relieved to have the house to focus on because it gives me something to set my eyes on while all of this is happening around me.  Sometimes I feel a bit like Nero fiddling while Rome burns and I definitely see the appeal.  

As a result, my prayers this week will revolve around trust and rest.  My rest patterns are horrific right now.  I'm lucky to sleep 3 straight hours.  I've decided even when I can't sleep, I'm going to consciously rest in God.  The knowing that He has this.  Allowing Him to deal with the details, the fall out, all of it.  Trusting I don't need to run around trying to fix all of this, but this is one of those times it is important to just be, to just Stand.   Will you Stand with me today?  Whisper a prayer for me if you have a moment, and I will for each of you dear readers. 

Smooches and Shakes,

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It's Duck's Life

In my last entry, I promised to tell you about the new additions to our family.  We are maxed out in the kid department, 4 is quite enough for me.  Pets, however, always sound like a great option to me and I seem to forget they require tons of work all on their own.  I do have to say our latest additions are pretty darn easy to care for and provide a ton of entertainment.   May I introduce you to Daisy, Daffnee, and Donald (this is a story in itself).

The kids and I had to go to our local Tractor Supply to pick up a couple of things we needed for our dogs.  As we entered the building, we noticed there was a lady off to the right with a truckload of chickens.  As I am interested in adding a chicken coop once our house is complete, I thought I would go over and talk to her.  Once we began talking, the kids noticed the white Pekin Ducks and were smitten.  Yes, Pekin Ducks are the ducks you eat most of the time in the United States.  About 90% of ducks consumed in the US are Pekin ducks.  They also lay eggs several times a week.  Pekin duck eggs are about twice the size of  a chicken egg.  They are quite rich, so they may be a bit much as a stand alone breakfast, but they are fantastic for baking.  They make your cake extremely rich and moist.  I baked a coconut cake with duck eggs last night and it was melt in your mouth.  Our ducks will not be used for meat, but only for eggs.  We chose 3 ducks and were told they were all female.  After having the ducks home a few days, we observed a "mating ritual" or at least what we suspected was one.  I checked with google, and indeed it was exactly as we surmised.  So, we know we definitely have a male and that is why we have a "Donald".  Pekin ducks are not known to be very "broody" so we would have to incubate the eggs to have little ducklings.  The chance of that is very low, so don't look for any grandducks around these parts soon.

We made the ducks a pen down by our dock and they really enjoy their lakefront property.  I'm sure they see it a s step up from hanging out in a pen in the back of a pick up truck on an asphalt parking lot.  They have unlimited access to the lake and have already made some wild duck friends.  One group of wild duck friends is a Mama Duck with 6 babies.  She has been bringing her brood up into the pen at night (likely to protect them from the neighborhood owl) and we are happy to offer her refuge.  We do feed our ducks cracked corn, but they stay quite full from the menu of minnows and bugs they get directly from the lake.   Our ducks are bringing us tons of entertainment with their antics and are a great opportunity for the kids to learn to respect wild life.  Here's to a great day in your world, and like our ducks, let the bad stuff roll off your back like water!

Smooches and Shakes,

Friday, May 30, 2014

Catchin Up

It's embarrassing.  I can't believe I haven't written in almost 6 weeks.  I will be shocked if people are still reading here.   Life has truly been crazy, but perhaps getting settled enough where I can write again a bit.  I have so much to write about and pondered just throwing it all in one long post, but decided against it.  In this post, I'm just going to do a bit of catching up on our housing situation.  We finally, finally sold our home on May 5th.  When the buyer finished signing their closing documents, I was so relieved.  I never expected to want to leave that home, but after dealing with the 2 HOA's for 4 years, I was done.  Some people love HOA's and the protection the rules bring.   I've just decided I'm not one of them.  We closed on the lot we intend to build on the next day.  Currently, we are waiting for the draftsman to finish up our plans so we may submit them to the county for approval.  We are going to subcontract the house out ourselves, so that will definitely be a process I want to document in the blog as we go.  The house is very average size (around 2000 sq ft.), but uses space very wisely, if I do say so myself.  I designed the layout based on what has worked for our family in the past.  I know we are definitely not a 2 story house crew, and a separate formal dining room will just be wasted space.  In addition, I wanted our main living areas to look out on our lake as it is such an amazing view.  Seriously, the sunsets are insane.  I'm hoping we will break ground by the end of June.  As always, pray for us, in particular for our sanity as we live in a 900 sq ft rental with our 2 dogs and 2 kids.  I'll have to take pictures of the rental for you so you can get the full experience!    Any readers who have ever built a house themselves with tips or lessons learned?  Would love to hear them in the comment section!   And as I can't ever post an update without a picture, here is my son in our lake with our new ducks.  Yes, they are actually our ducks.  I'll tell you all about them tomorrow! 

Smooches and Shakes,

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Motorbikes, Mischief and Missed Opportunity

We've had lots of happenings around Casa de Milkshake.  It's been a mixed bag which I'm learning is how life tends to go.  On the up side, the littlest Shake and her Dad had a great time at her school's first annual Father/Daughter Dance.  They danced (obvs), played games, and ate some amazing chocolate fountain goodness.  Here's a pic of the little Miss as she was heading out:

The boy also had a fun event that became a Mother/Son night.  I had the opportunity to take he and a couple of friends to see the Nuclear Cowboyz in Tampa, Florida.  (It really was a great show, and you should totally consider taking your kiddos if you live in the Orlando Area.  They'll roll into the Amway Center on March 8th and hang around until the 10th).  There were four wheelers (quads?), dirt bikes, ninjas, things exploding, smoke, racing...pretty much all the things a group of 13 year old boys need to be happy.  It was a totally exciting 2 1/2 hours with a brief intermission.  Younger kids may find the "story" that goes along with the show a little difficult to follow, but will be so immersed in the high flying bonanza that it won't matter a bit.  Again, I had 13 year old boys with me and even they were not able to deny how fun it was (you know 13 year old boys find all the things lame...mostly their Moms), and they even walked in the same vicinity of me as we left the Forum after the show, so clearly I had earned some street cred with them.  They also missed two, yes two different birthday parties going on amongst their friends that night, so clearly they have their priorities straight.  You can follow Nuclear Cowboyz on Facebook for more updates, great videos and photos!       

Just a tiny side note (Tons more pics on Instagram)!  Come follow me for more fun moments from the night!

We ate Five Guys Burgers on the way so basically it was the perfect evening. 

And, finally, the bummer of it all.  We had a contract on our house, it seemed like things were going along swimmingly, but they buyer backed out at the last minute.  We are now back on the market (I do not recommend ever selling a house with kids and 2 very rotten dogs).  So, any spare prayers for a great buyer who can close really fast are appreciated.  I'm totally not conveying well the depths of my disappointment over the loss of this contract.  You'll just have to trust me.  I've been pretty unbearable the last few days.  I even abandoned my Lake House Pinterest board if that tells you anything.  It just seems this is a dream slipping through my fingers and I'm struggling.  A friend posted this on Facebook yesterday and I'm doing my best to embrace the current suck:

We've had some good fun lately, and a few tears to boot.  Thanks for always sticking around for this wild and crazy ride with us.  You are the Irish Creme in my coffee.  The coffee is pretty good without you, but once you add that creme, it becomes perfection.  

Smooches and Shakes,

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Top Ten Things that May Cause a Seller to Dream of Punching You in the Throat

We are now going on week 3 of having a house on the market, and I'm going to be real, I'm exhausted.  We've had a ton of showings, but nothing further than that.  We've gotten a little feedback that is pretty unhelpful like: the buyer is looking for a bigger house or a more open floor plan.  Since I don't plan to build onto my house or knock down some walls any time soon, there's not much I can do about either of these complaints.  In the spirit of trying to find some humor in my angst, I've compiled my:

         Top Ten Things that May Cause a Seller to Dream of Punching You in the Throat

1. Making a Listing Appointment and Not Showing Up.

2. Or the sister to complaint #1, showing up 45 minutes early.  This happened to me last week.  Let me set the scene:  Cleaning supplies everywhere, me running around without a bra on, yelling at the kids to pick up the dog's bowls and put them on a leash, 2 psychotic dachshunds barking furiously at said buyers through the glass front door, me waving through the glass door asking the prospective buyer to give me 5 minutes, please and thank you very much.  This prospective buyer was one who called my realtor after and said and I quote "we can get more house for the same money with new construction".  Then, why did you come?  You knew the price!  And, if you think the price is too much, make a dang offer.  Gah!

3.  We (the buyer) were looking for something bigger.  Was the square footage on the MLS listing confusing?  Did you think we had possibly added rooms since our realtor listed the house 3 weeks ago?

4. We (also, the buyer) were looking for a different floor plan.  Again, did the 30 pictures and the virtual tour not answer these questions for you?

5.  We prefer not to have a pool.  Our kids can't swim.  Again, look at the MLS listing.  It mentions a pool, and then there are like 5 pictures of my pool.  I'll go fill it in with dirt right now.
6.  We work 45 minutes from where your house is located, so it's too far to drive.  Did your place of business move?  Did you think a helicopter came with the home?  Perhaps, you thought we would move the house for you?  This one is a real stumper.

7.  We would like a more updated kitchen. Yes, I feel you.  So would I.  Again, people, look at the freaking pictures.  If our kitchen is not your speed, and I'm totally cool with that, you can tell that from the very professional pictures our agent has provided you with.  We also have not undertaken a major kitchen remodel in the last 3 weeks. Further, if our house did indeed have a kitchen worthy of Chef Emeril, the price would reflect said kitchen. We are priced very competitively for the kitchen we have.  We did it on purpose.

8. We like your house, but we haven't started the loan process yet, and aren't sure we'd qualify.  This one is why I just penned an email to my agent asking her to require a pre-approval letter from prospective buyers before booking a showing.  I know that sounds harsh, but, really if you haven't even figured out your budget yet, your likely wasting a whole bunch of people's time.

9. We'll be by to see your house today between 2:30 and 6:30.  A 4 hour viewing window?  For real?  I have kids and dogs and a husband working a 10 day gig who isn't here to help, and I'm already a donkey on the edge! Now, you want me to leave my house for 4 hours (more really when you consider I want to leave 30 minutes in advance of the appt)?  An hour or 2 maybe, but 4?

10.  Using my bathroom and not flushing the toilet.  Yes, I know it was you, or your agent, because I inspected each and every toilet after loading the kids in the car with said pups.  They were all flushed with pretty blue water when I left.  I did not find one of them in that condition.  You are gross.    

All of these things speak to basic respect for other human beings to me.  If you are out looking for a house, congrats!! It's an exciting time, and I totally understand you will see many houses before you find just the right one.  Please do consider, however, there are real living people who currently live in the home you are interested in, and a little basic courtesy goes a long way, particularly if you do find yourself making an offer and you are negotiating with these people.  Thank you in advance from an exhausted seller.

Smooches and Shakes,



Monday, January 27, 2014

Waiting Game

Well, our house has officially been on the market for one week now and it's not going as well as I'd hoped.   We've had 2 showings and no follow up from the lookers.  I think my expectations were set way too high.  I thought since we lived in a desirable community in our city, we would have at least had more interest in a first look.  Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case.  I'm beginning to see this may be a very lengthy process, and if that is the case, we likely won't have the opportunity to purchase the lot we desire.  We can't purchase the lot without selling this house, and the lot will likely go before we have the opportunity to be done with this home.  I said in my last entry I was willing to accept whatever God's will for our move may be, and I understand that may mean remaining in this home.  That sounds really unappealing to me.  This home is not a great layout for our family, and we've had some pretty rough times while living here.  I'm ready for a fresh space with a new start.  Even with all of that, I know this might be bad timing, and we might be here for a little while longer, or possibly a lot longer.  Who knows? 

So, needless to say, I'm bummed.  In the whole scheme of things, it's first world problems.  I get that.  We have a great place to live, in a safe community.  Really, it sounds super ungrateful to be upset that we might have to stay here.  I get that.  I'm working hard to keep perspective.  I know many families would love to live in our home, and would appreciate it much more than I do.  Even typing my discontent with our current home feels really selfish.  I'm working through the conflicting feelings of knowing God is interested in all the desires of our heart, while realizing he has already blessed me abundantly and if He never did another thing for me, He's lavished me with way more than I deserve. 

Adding to my "list of things to worry about today", is baseball season.  The boy is getting to the age where you no longer just "make" it.  Boys get cut.  Boys don't play.  His life is baseball and it would be heart breaking for him to not make the team.  It's competitive.  He's worked hard, and now he just has to go out there and do his thing hoping it's enough.  I decided if I had to choose between selling our home and him making the baseball team, I would definitely go with him making the baseball team.  I'd rather deal with my disappointment than his, any old day.  So, God, if I have to stay in this house, if that is Your will, please give the boy a spot on the baseball team.  That way, I have a place to go 3 nights a week and that will help me forget how much I hate the carpet in this house. 

Smooches and Shakes,

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Milkshakes on the Move?

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed I've been oddly silent as of the last week.  This would be quite noticeable because, I am in fact, addicted to Twitter and spend way too much time on it.  Waiting in line, going to the bathroom, any free minute, I'm on Twitter.  There's been little time for any of the above, however, because we've had some exciting happenings around Casa Milkshake.  Here's the Reader's Digest Abridged Edition:

I've been ready to sell our home and move on for quite some time.  I've decided living in a neighborhood with an HOA (Homeower's Association for those that live in blissful ignorance to this type of thing) is not for me.  My husband, however, was not quite so ready.  He hoped to stay in this home until our littlest shake was off to college.  I really couldn't imagine that.  We've talked about moving several times and he's never really been on board.  Until we found this lot:

As you can see, it has a beautiful view of a lake in our area (actually it's a "chain of lakes") and once my husband imagined building a log home on this property, he was sold.  Obviously, the one obstacle standing in the way is selling our current home.  We couldn't and frankly wouldn't hold a mortgage and a monthly payment on a lot, so the only way this is feasible is a quick sell of our current home.  We've chosen the best realtor in our area, priced our home fairly (we think!), and are hoping for a quick sell.  The market for our neighborhood has been pretty brisk, so fingers crossed.  I hesitated to write about this as everything is so tentative and still could fall through at any minute.  This is a very real possibility.  I reconsidered, however, when I thought about my reasons for writing this blog.  While I love sharing with my readers, ultimately I keep this blog as a way to document what happened over the years in our family.  This is an exciting, yet tenuous time for us.  Whether or not things work out with the new property, I want to remember this time.  I want to look back at how I felt, how I prayed, how I handled joy, and possibly how I may have to the deal with disappointment. 

Ultimately, no matter what happens, I want to know where we live is God ordained.  If the door is closed on a move, I will know He is in control.  So, if you are the praying sort, would you add my little family to your list.  Just pray for God's will to be done in our lives.  As long as we rest in that place, I know we will be fine as frog hair.

Smooches and Shakes,