Monday, April 27, 2009

30 Weeks!

Can you believe that tomorrow I will be 30 weeks pregnant!? AAACK!! Talk about coming close. Since Valerie was born at 36 weeks and Ellie at 38, it is hitting me that this little one could be here in 6 weeks. We have so much to do, we haven't even started shopping yet although Derrick did get the crib and swing together this last week!

Here is a belly pic taken about 5 minutes ago. Sorry for the weird shot, there are limited surfaces I have to set my camera/timer on. lol :) I think I am carrying the same as the other 2, except she is definitely low and it's been very painful for several weeks now. Hopefully that means I won't be stuck in the hospital on July 4! (My due date is July 7, but they will schedule my c-section for 39 weeks. I'd expect to meet Madeline somewhere at the end of June). BTW, don't judge the hair. It hasn't been cut since before Xmas. I'm waiting for pay day and a day of no children... who knows when that will be. :)

Jelly Belly Factory

Did you all have a nice weekend? Thursday and Friday were so beautiful, hitting 84 degrees and sunny! We took advantage of this Friday evening and ordered pizza with our neighbors, sat around the firepit while the kids all played. Unfortunately it started thunderstorming at 8am Saturday morning so any plans to get yardwork done or go somewhere fun outside were cancelled!

We decided to try out the Jelly Belly Factory in Pleasant Prairie, WI. It's right on the border and about a half hour from here. Basically you ride a little train/tram around the warehouse, stopping every few feet to watch another video about how the JB's are made. You wear a paper hat, the train whistles, and you do get a free bag of jelly belly's at the end! It's totally free, so I'm not complaining. I thought there'd be a little more to it, but the kids actually liked it and payed attention for the most part.

Pardon how horrible the pics are, I forgot my flash and I think shooting on 'auto mode' basically makes your pics turn out like junk.

Afterwards the girls were being so good we decided to take them to chuck e cheese for pizza/games. After a week being stuck at home (we still are waiting on our car to arrive from Italy so D takes the one to work every day) they deserved some fun. We had a great time!

It rained again, better yet POURED, all day Sunday so we did not get to try out any more churches. With Derrick's current sinus infection plus the rain it was just better to stick it at home for the day.
Enjoy your week!!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fun times with neighbors

Yesterday was beautiful so I shoved the kids out in the backyard to play while I painted the second coat on the dining room. It's finally done! This weekend we are going to hang some stuff up and hopefully find curtains, and then I'll start posting some pics of the house. We just have to put up some wainscotting, oh yeah and replace the floors covered in black stains.. and the ugly brass light fixtures.. anyway. slowly. The carpets (which are the lightest color you can get practically) look like a child ran around with a jug of koolaid. There are giant pink stains all over the ENTIRE house. it's *awesome*.

We were invited to a birthday party last night and the kids had the best time. On our street, at our end are mostly vacant houses or teenagers. We have never seen any of our actual neighbors outside, its' a bit bizarre. About 3 houses down towards the other end of the street there is a block of 4-5 houses that consistently are outside with their young children and the parents all sit and talk. So we just walk down there now and finally have some friends! The birthday party was that group of neighbors, and it was so great to see all of the wives and husbands getting along and it seemed like a big family birthday party. It was at the Build-A-Bear in the mall. I was shocked that she paid for each child to make a stuffed animal but we were so greatful they included us. Our girls both chose hot pink monkey's. go figure. ;) We plan on sitting by the fire pit and ordering pizza in someone's driveway while the kids all play outside one night this weekend. I'm so thankful to have found this neighborhood!!!

Today, I am off to scrub bathrooms and get some pictures hung. I can only handle living with piles of paint cans and pictures on the floor for so long (as can my children who are starting to get in to it!) :) Enjoy the gorgeous weekend!!!!

I just took this picture a few minutes ago. The girls are sitting with their new monkey's, in princess dresses, watching Enchanted while mommy deals with phone calls and bills. :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Last weekend the weather was so incredibly beautiful, we took advantage of it! I am sure most of you did too! Friday we took the kids to Brookfield Zoo. The kids loved it so much, as did we, so we bought season passes so we can go many times this year! There was so much to do, we honestly only saw about 1/3 of the park as we didn't even have time for the kids' zoo area or the kids' play area, the dolphin show wasn't running that day, and some of the indoor places closed an hour earlier than the park closed, so we missed a lot of animals!! We can't wait to go back!

Norman is adjusting just fine. He has put on a lot of weight (and eaten bowl after bowl of food) since Saturday as well as done almost nothing but sleep. He seems very happy and Kilah has been so much happier having her friend back. They have been together since puppies, so she was pretty down while he was gone. I'm guessing she was wondering if we'd "off" her next. ;)

This week we are just settling in to a new routine. Derrick started working this week and I have been trying to set up some sort of normalcy around here again. We are mostly unpacked, other than the baby's room. Deep cleaning has been taking a lot of time as the house was pretty filthy upon move-in and we have yet to finish painting the kitchen and dining room. I have been doing some homeschooling/preschool here and there with the girls since Val has already missed a month of school. They crave atleast some structure and since moving we have had zero of it!! Today we took an idea from my friend Allie's sight (see left in list for link) - No Time for Flash Cards. We talked about trees and the earth (for earth week!) and made trees out of paper, paint, glitter, and an old egg carton. We read some stories and T was the letter of the day. It was a great morning!

That is about all to report for now. Thus far Derrick is seemingly happy with his new job (not that he's been there long, but he likes the guys and so far he's glad to be going). The only downside is that he isn't really home anymore than he was before. He traded longer hours at work for an hour commute, so he's still home pretty late but atleast he's not deploying. We only live about 15 miles from base but the commute is due to heavy traffic/stop lights. yuck!

We are also planning a trip to Disney World this fall so if you have any tips let us know! They are currently offering the military some impressive deals but they end in Dec. so we want to take advantage while we can!

I will leave you with a few pics from the zoo- (mostly from the playground there).

This is the only outfit they own that matches, so don't tease. It sure made keeping track of them (especially at the extremely crowded playground) so much easier!!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Norman came BACK!!!

Just a few minutes ago.. I thought I'd update. I was sitting here checking my email and heard his notorious squeaky whining and didn't think much of it because I'm so used to blocking it out. I realized it was HIM and ran to the front door. He had already taken off so I had to run around the neighborhood in pj's and bare feet but he was desperate to find us, kept getting stuck behind fenced in yards and no way to get around them. Norm is super skinny but looks otherwise healthy for the most part. He has some sores on his feet, may be frostbite but I can't tell. His belly looks frostbitten and he has some large scratches to his nose, probably from a fight. He's exhausted! Kilah is chasing him everywhere, she is so excited! The cat is not loving him. hahaha. :) Just wanted to update, thanks for your prayers! We are not quite sure how he survived nights of snow and ice and seemingly no food for nearly 3 weeks. Wow!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Belated Easter-

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! I am slowly catching up on posts here. For Easter, my parents drove up here Sat and stayed until Sun evening. It is so nice to have family close by (well 2 hours is close for us, considering what it took to visit the last few years!) It was very cold out, due to the wind, but the men finished putting together a wooden sing set/fort for the girls complete with a slide. That took most of our down time.

Sunday the girls woke up to the usual egg hunt and baskets- they loved it! It seems to get more fun the older they get!!! We tried out another church on Sunday (We had tried one the week before and it just wasn't a match). However, this one was great! It's called, ironically, "the Chapel" (since we had just been going to the chapel on base in Sicily for years). It's a fairly large congregation with a rock band, the usual 'mega church' stuff but my favorite was the children's area. There is a slide downstairs that looks like a train engine, a fantastic security system for checking kids in and out, and a fantastic curriculum. So Ellie is actually learning instead of sitting in the church nursery. We will probably go back this weekend to see it again on a non-Easter holiday but will also check out a couple others before we make our final decision.

Today we are headed to the zoo! Derrick wants to buy an annual pass (you only have to go twice to get your money's worth!) so I can take the girls all the time! Hooray for that! Will report on that tmrw. After weeks of being windy and in the 40's, sometimes 50's.. it's supposed to be sunny and hit 70 today so we're taking advantage of Derrick's last day off before starting his new job on Monday!!!
Here are some Easter pics. I very regretfully forgot to take a picture of my parents and all of us!

Don't mind the background, we need another coat on the red walls and obviously the tape/lack of light plates are due to the in-progress job!

They loved dying eggs! Derrick's first time doing this with us, it was a treat :)
The Easter bunny brought coloring/sticker books, rabbit ears, a chocolate bunny, a lipsmackers chapstick, and some fun character socks this year!

Just for kicks.. this is Easter last year. Notice that Eleanor is wearing the same dress this year that Valerie wore last year. sigh.. getting so big!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pepper Powell

I didn't realize how silly Pepper Powell sounded until I read April's comment. ha ha. Luckily you don't usually have to use your pet's last name (for her sake).

We have been thinking of getting a cat for a long time but for obvious reasons waited until we moved to do so. She is not a replacement for Norman, as we'd still gladly take him back if he came home but an addition to our already crazy family. What's one more?

Pepper came from a wonderful animal shelter in Vernon Hills, IL called Orphans of the Storm. We sat in the cat rooms for hours while cats climbed around us and sat in our laps. It was a great way to pick a pet because you get to spend a lot of time figuring out which pet would fit well with your family (aka a grabby 2 year old toddler). Pepper is very affectionate, almost annoyingly so at times, and spunky. Valerie named her, and it seems to fit her fiesty personality. She sits on your lap the second you sit down and starts purring as soon as she sees you. We think she likes it here so far, she follows us around every where we go and meows when she can't see us. Kilah, our Cairn Terrier (Toto) so far just sniffs her. They avoid each other for the most part, mostly because Pepper swatted Kilah's nose a few times on the first day.. but they don't seem to fight or care one way or the other.
Here's pics!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Random Old Pics

Hi loved ones! I have been so busy getting things done that I haven't been on the computer much. Balance is key and is has been nice to take a break, but I am glad to be doing some updates. I finally uploaded some photos and realized I have pics back from March up until now to share. Here are a small few:

Valerie loved her preschool at the Child Development Center on base in Sicily. One week they celebrated Dr. Seuss week (which is nationally recognized) along with the elementary school. There was a parade, and every one made and wore these special hats. I'm sure you can guess that it's from the Cat in the Hat. She was so proud!

I ran into this one and got teary eyed a bit. It's been over 2 weeks now since Norman's runaway and I don't think he's coming back at this point. When he was only a few months old and a new puppy in my care he ran away for almost two weeks when a phone repair man came to my new apartment in college. He eventually found his way home. At any rate, it's a sweet photo of dear Normie.

Ellie's new love - the bouncy ball with the handle. We were stuck outside for almost 10 hours one day while we had our house cleaned before our inspection. We were so thankful for a warm day!

After we flew back to the States we stayed with my parents for a few days while we worked out getting a new car, having our things delivered to our new home,etc. I caught a happy Valerie blowing bubbles with Grandpa Jeff on a sunny day. Ironically we got 6" of snow a couple days later. How fast the weather changes up here!
Eleanor Lily turned 2 the very next day after we flew in. We were jet lagged but managed to give her a decent birthday at Grandma and Grandpa's. There is a diner in Schereville that has a train ride, model trains, and best of all, you can sit at the counter and a train rides around the track and brings your food to you! Most of you know by now that Ellie's love is currently trains and it was super fun! Afterwards, the gparents took the girls to ride the carosel and play at the mall so Derrick and I could do some birthday shopping. We got her a couple trains and a new Tinkerbell dress up dress (her favorite princess.. she is just newly getting into this with Valerie). We got Valerie an inexpensive generic dress also for being the big sister so they could dress up together.. as Val's were all packed up and wouldn't be there for a few more weeks. A Thomas the Train cake capped off the day and a great, low-key birthday was had by Eleanor. :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Quick update

Hi all--

Since so many asked, no we have not found Norman yet. No one has seen him either. We have contacted shelters, the police, vets,etc. It has been pouring rain so we haven't put up fliars but have been talking to neighbors,etc. Unfortunately he has done this before (twice actually) and no one has ever caught him. He is terrified of strangers, so I highly doubt he is with a family even though my heart wants to believe that. It snowed last night about an inch, so it's pretty gross outside. Poor guy. He does have a name tag with Norman on it, however our phone and address are from Sicily. We had only been here a few days when he left and didn't make it to petsmart yet. Kilah now has new tags! :)

He is microchipped also, so we shall see.

On a positive note, we are settling in well and got the rest of our things today so I am back online! This week we are busily trying to unpack and finish painting. Derrick goes back to work in a little over a week so we are trying to get the bulk of the work done now because I am definitely feeling my pregnancy at this point. I'm about 7 months now, only a short time left.. and am absolutely exhausted by dinner time! I'm not much help these days :)

Will write soon.. trying to get settled. Hope all is well!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hello Strangers!!

Well we certainly aren't in Sicily anymore, but I will keep the same blog address so I don't have to change everything over. Look for a new picture soon lol :)

We are moved in, but without internet access so I am just now writing an update to you all from a library computer. Our express shipment arrives on Monday so I should be back on track after that and we will be better about communicating to you all!

The move over was very smooth. Our flights went well, the kids were absolutely wonderfully behaved, and the dogs made the flight. They must have let them out somewhere because they were dry when we got to Chicago (my worst fear.. driving home with dogs in the car that had "dirty" cages). A man threw a fit because he didn't want to sit next to my kids on the plane (it was five seats across) and I found it hilarious that he moved several rows up, right in front of a kid who kicked his seat and threw tantrums the entire time. My children are used to this flight, and watched movies or colored the entire time. priceless.

We stayed with Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) for several days as we were living out of two suitcases. The kids were so excited to be *home*!! We probably ate at 50 restaurants and the kids were happy just to ride the carosel at the mall or go somewhere that had crayons and a kids' menu. We decided to go ahead and move in to our home early so we could get a lot of painting done and some minor repairs before our big furniture shipment arrived. Sleeping on an air mattress for about a week wasn't so horrible but I am glad to have my bed back!! Our furniture arrived a few days ago, but our car won't be here for atleast another month. We did end up having to buy a 2nd car which Derrick can use for work.

Our home is absolutely beautiful. It has such potential and so far we have painted 90% of the first level. The rest will have to wait for a later date, when I'm not almost 7 months pregnant! I will post photos soon, when we have our own computer, and when more boxes are unpacked! Our house backs up to a marshy area and in the mornings we watch Canadian geese fly and at night you can hear the frogs croacking as we sit and watch television. There have been a couple pitfalls. The previous owners/renters must have absolutely not cleaned for the time they were there (the house was built in '04 so you'd expect it to be somewhat decent). I pulled the oven out to paint behind it and there were dirty plates with food on them, spaghetti sauce poured down the sides of the oven that took hours to remove, and rat poop on the ground. Our dishwasher is missing the wheels to the rack as well as the silverware basket and we can't use it. The pipes were complely blocked solid to our kitchen drain and had to be actually cut out in the basement and replaced. ACK! However, with some paint and scrubbing it's turning into -home- for us and we are liking it.

On a sad note, Norman, our 7 year old basset hound, ran away several days ago. He was not happy in TX or Italy and was just so ecstatic here in IL. He's definitely a midwest dog who loves the woods and the cooler weather. We were so glad to see him happy again as it has quite honestly become a pain to have a dog such as Norman over the last couple years. The direct tv guy came to remove some satellites (there were 4 on the house when we moved in.. seriously?!) and left the gate to our fenced in back yard open. We had no idea since it's on the side of the house and didn't realize it until several hours later, at almost midnight that Norman was missing. Thankfully Kilah, our little "toto" was at the neighbor's house but they said Norman took off like a bullet. ugh!!!! We've contacted the shelter, police, etc. but no sign of him yet. Say a prayer for poor Normie. Valerie is having a hard time with it. Yesterday she asked if we could get a new dog who really wanted us. :( too hard!!

The area around here is hilly, full of forest preserves and beautiful. We live in a very small town and love it, with all the major stores/restaurants within a 20 minute drive to our home. There is a metra stop to Chicago about one mile from our home also. Feel free to visit although we will need a little time to unpack and this summer, settle in with our new baby girl! :)

Will update soon, should be back online next week. Ciao for now friends and family!!