Monday, June 30, 2008

Leaving for Vacation was No Picnic

I'm up early with Eli this morning (he's gotten up early both days now since his body is on Central time, but we're on the West Coast two hours earlier...) and the rest of the house is completely silent. I figured it was a good time to write about the craziness of Saturday morning when we tried to get out of town.

Backing up - on Friday night, I had about 100 things I was trying to get done before we left the next morning. I was running errands as late as 11:30 p.m. and then came home to start packing my suitcase. I ended up getting three hours of sleep that night and STILL didn't finish everything on my list.

On Saturday morning, we woke up at 5 a.m. to be ready for our cab that was picking us up at 6 a.m. I sat in the backseat with Eli, and the first thing I noticed (as the Nigerian cab driver zoomed off with us inside) was that his car's speedometer was not working. Fantastic. The second thing I noticed was that he had a Bible sitting on top of the dashboard - it was the African American Jubilee Edition. I couldn't decide if it was on the dashboard for protection from his crazy driving?? The cabbie blasted a religious radio station the entire way.

The cab flew down Lake Shore Drive (at who knows how fast of speed), on our way to Midway Airport. Ben and I had debated driving our car to the long-term parking lot and taking the shuttle over, but I was nervous about having Eli in one of those shuttle buses without a car seat (and those shuttle bus drivers are never the safest either). I sat there closing my eyes thinking, this is MUCH worse than 5 minutes on the shuttle bus...

We made it to the airport in just under an hour. Ben pulled out his credit card and the cabbie acted like his credit card machine was broken! That would have been nice to know as we didn't have enough cash to pay him. So Ben ran into the airport looking for an ATM and came back a few minutes later with some more money.

Fast forward to our 4 hours, 20 minutes on the airplane to Portland. Eli was tired, but was too stubborn to give in and fall asleep. Instead, he fussed for about 3 hours of the flight (I think the entire plane was listening to his unhappiness - there weren't any other small children on the flight). Our tricks kept him happy for maybe an hour total. My favorite thing was when the guy in front of Eli decided to recline his seat, leaving zero leg room for my child (we brought Eli's car seat onthe plane, so his legs were sticking out rather than straight down) and Eli, in his tired, frustrated state of being, kept pushing on the back of this guy's seat (despite my efforts to get him to stop - after 10 min. of this, the guy brought his seat back up). Eli finally slept for the last 30 minutes of the flight.

In the meantime, my lack of sleep all last week had caught up to me, and I was getting a bad cold. On the flight's descent, I had the most HORRIBLE sinus pressure and pain - it felt like someone was shooting darts through my face, behind my eyes, nose, and jaw. I was in tears the entire way down and made a beeline to buy some tylenol once we were off the plane. Thankfully, Ben's cousin is a doctor and I am now taking an antibiotic to get rid of my sinus infection.

Now that we're here, things are going well. There are 31 of us staying at Ben's brother's house for the weekend and then we'll go to the big reunion with 110 Seversons (we rent space at a camp) for the rest of the week. It should be fun! I'm not looking forward to our flight home though... (or the cab ride back :)

(and I'll post pictures next time - sorry for the text-heavy post...)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back to Reality

Last night I got my frustration out by blogging and of course eating those tasty snacks. Thanks for your sweet comments, even those of you who will miss out on future TJ snacks :) Today those snacks look less appetizing!

I had to keep going with the house hunt and not dwell too much on the sadness, so today I saw four more houses (two were for sale by owners, and two others were houses that had been on the market for a while and dropped in price). One house took the cake - it was in the WORST shape I have seen in the zillions that I've looked at. It was such an enormous project (it was a 3-story, old home that needed lots of love and sweat) that I was completely overwhelmed and we didn't stay long.

However, the second FSBO home is a good possibility! We have to decide if it's an amount we want to spend, but if we did get it, the major things have all been done - it has a new roof, new boiler, new central air, new kitchen, new bathrooms, new new new is the magic word there. So I'm tempted. Ben is tempted too (he came back with me tonight after work). The downsides are that it's on a slightly busier road, and it's not as close to the train as he would like - more like a 10-15 minute walk. The yard is wonderful, the living areas are spacious and nicely done, and I love the warmth of the upstairs... it feels like a nice place to be.

Who knows though? Every day our thoughts change and we go up and down on the emotional rollercoaster of settling on this more permanent fixture of our lives. We'll see what next week holds when we get back from vacation (and BOY do we need a vacation). Happy 4th everyone!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"It Wasn't Meant to Be..."

...that's my favorite line when someone hears we didn't get the house. (sorry, I'm being a little sarcastic)

I'm mourning our loss, so bear with me. Adios, pretty house across from the park, two minutes from the train. So long, house with pretty chandeliers, huge living room, dining room, and family room, and beautiful backyard. And goodbye to the house with the SCARY, SCARY basement with asbestos-wrapped pipes and furnace and a very unfinished room full of mounds of dirt that we would have had to pay a crew to dig out and remove from the place. Goodbye to the house with the weird 80s bathroom, complete with a black toilet and sink.

Excuse me while I go drink root beer and stuff my face with Trader Joe's kettle corn. And TJ oreos. And sweet and salty trail mix. (Can you tell I shopped at Trader Joe's today? Yum. I have all kinds of treats to mourn with!)

I'll eat that while I scan the MLS again and contemplate if we could stand a house with an upstairs that looks like a log cabin. Or a house 10 blocks from the train. Or a house with hardly any backyard. What would you choose?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Eli's Latest Trick - Clapping with his Feet

Do you ever have days when life feels completely out of control?? I don't have the energy to explain everything that's going on at the moment, but all I can say is, one of the major things is that we're still in limbo with the house we really want. I've now seen every single house on the market in our price range and not loved any of them. The selection right now is AWFUL, in my opinion, because people are only selling if they absolutely have to.

We should hopefully know by Thursday or Friday what the outcome is on the house we are hoping for (we are the backup offer). In the meantime, tomorrow is the home inspection on our condo and I have been busy cleaning and getting our place in perfect form for the inspector. I'm also a tad behind on getting the Severson family cookbook edited and formatted, which needs to be done before we leave for the big reunion coming up. No problem. :)

In the midst of the craziness, Eli was pretty cute today. While I am NOT happy he's trying to give up taking two naps and just take one in the day, he made up for that frustration by clapping with his feet while I was changing his diaper. He thought it was hilarious and liked to say "clap clap clap" while he was doing it. See the video below for a little taste of my foot-clapping little boy!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What NOT to do When Your House is on the Market

While our first choice is for the house we were interested in to become available again, we don't have a whole lot of time to wait around and see what happens. So this afternoon I ran around to 10 open houses in hopes of finding the perfect Plan B. However, these are some of the things I found instead:
  • Trash can filled with used maxi pads (GROSS - at least empty your trash cans before your open house people!!)
  • Dirty bathrooms
  • Smelly, stained carpets
  • Closets with clothes piled on the floor (how hard is it to pick up your clothes??)
  • Closet stuffed with linens that started falling out when I opened the door
  • Stinky teenage bedrooms
  • Dingy kitchens that had weird smells
  • Weird pet odors
  • Floors that felt greasy

I can't tell you how discouraging it is to look at these homes that are not exactly cheap, and to not find a single one that was really in great showing shape, unless it was totally empty and the people had already moved out. There were a few of those too.

And actually, I take it back - there was one house that was really cute and in good shape, but while advertised as a 3-bedroom, it was just a 2-bedroom with another room in the basement... so it didn't fit what we were looking for. Eli and I are going to go see some more places tomorrow with our realtor... hopefully there are some decent ones in the bunch!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hungry for Change?

Today we drove by two different bake sales for Obama - it was pretty funny. I got this picture a little haphazardly as we were driving by, so it's not very good, but this gives you an idea. The other bake sale had a huge sign that said "Bake Sale for Obama" in huge letters.

And as the housing roller coaster continues, last night we put an offer in on the house we are interested in. Well, our luck ran out and someone else had BARELY gotten an offer in and negotiated with the sellers at the end of this week, so it's now under contract. Of course we didn't learn this until today, after we had submitted the offer (the seller's realtor is not impressing me - our realtor left multiple messages with her and she never got back to ours until after we'd sent the offer). I guess they are still going to counter our offer and then we'll end up being a back-up offer in case the first deal falls through. Ben and I are pretty sad though. We're not exactly in a place where there are a zillion houses in our price range to choose from. So now we're praying the first offer falls through!

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's Official!!! We're Under Contract!

After two weeks of craziness - packing up our clutter, making signs, creating a blog (, posting online on craigslist, zillow, and ziggy's house, we had an offer LAST NIGHT, negotiated over the phone this morning (while I was downtown at the Shedd Aquarium on a CRAZY, PACKED museum free day with Eli and a set of twins - no problem), and settled on a great price and terms.

Tonight we'll start the process of making an offer on the house we're interested in... we close on August 15th to sell this place, so it's going to be pretty fast! We feel SO grateful, blessed, a little stunned, and amazed that everything is working out so far. Wish us luck on the buying end!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Eli's Secret Language

Over the last few weeks, Eli has become very chatty. He babbles about all kinds of things with lots of intonations and expressions, and often cracks himself up. Tonight he kept dropping the food on his fork and would crack up when we said, "Oops!" so I had to get it on video. (Please ignore my annoying "oops" and just watch this crazy child :)

On a side note, think positive thoughts for us today! We have a realtor coming to see our place who represents a person who is coming to do a PhD at Northwestern and I think his parents are helping him buy a condo. The realtor said they made an offer on a place already, but it fell through, so it sounds like they are anxious to secure something else. So we'll see! (the woman from Sunday ended up bidding on another unit in our building, so she's no longer in the picture) Ohhh the emotional ups and downs of selling a home. :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Enjoying a Friend's Backyard

It's always a treat when we go to a friend's house with a backyard! We went to Rebekeh's house yesterday and her husband was kind enough to fill their baby pool with warm water. I did not come prepared with a swimsuit, but we borrowed a swim diaper and Eli was in heaven!

Eli loved their selection of outdoor toys too.

He had a few scary moments where his slippery bum slid forward off the seat (and his chin was stuck on the steering wheel, very sad), but for the most part he really enjoyed this car.

He went back in the pool a few times, so I just left him in his swim diaper the whole time. He looked pretty funny in shoes, diaper, and hat.

He loved beeping the horn on this tractor too.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Exploring the Territory

Eli likes to pull all of the toys out of this side of the cabinet...
then makes himself comfortable inside.
Each time he does it, he seems so pleased with himself.
He's a sweet little guy. :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Eli's 1-Year Picture

I finally scheduled an appointment to get Eli's official 1-year picture taken. He was miraculously free of bumps and bruises, and while it took a LONG time for him to warm up to our very lukewarm photographer (we were at Picture People), another photographer came over to get him to smile and it worked! This boy is always on the move, so it was a little tricky keeping him on the backdrop...

Father's Day

We had a really nice Father's Day yesterday! Ben opened one of his gifts in the morning - a box with two ties inside - and wore one of them to church. We had an open house in the early afternoon, and had two people come through! (this may not sound like much, but this was better than last week's open house when we had ZERO people...) One of the people seemed very interested and gave us some hope that we may actually be able to sell this place soon. We'll see though.

After the open house, we drove up to my parents' house for dinner. Eli loves playing in their yard and being outside, so it was fun to watch him toddling around in the grass. My parents had pulled out their wooden Noah's Ark set and Eli enjoyed playing with the sets of animals and of course dropping them in a metal bowl.

The second part of my gift for Ben (and also to my dad) was something that I made (I got the idea from another blog) - I bought two Real Simple business card holders at Target and filled them with pictures, mostly of Eli, but some of Ben and Eli, or Ben and my dad, and a few with me, Ben and Eli. I love gifts that include pictures, since I am constantly taking them and like to do things with them.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Boy Cheered Me Up

I woke up this morning in kind of a crummy mood. The garbage man woke up my child at 6:15 a.m. It was LOUD. Eli's room faces the building's courtyard, which connects to the alley where the garbage truck picks up the trash. Darn garbage truck.
But I'm in a better mood now because Eli has been so cute this morning. We did laundry last night and the basket was still out in the living room. He had a great time sitting in it.
I love capturing the moments when he's playing happily. It helps me get out of my silly bad mood. Besides waking up early, I was bummed because the couple we showed our condo to over the weekend expressed a lot of interest two days ago and sounded like they would make an offer, but yesterday decided on very different long-term plans and are no longer interested. The search continues for a buyer...
In the meantime, Eli's just happy cuddling with his sheep rug and throwing balls around the living room. I love him so much!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Playing at the Park

I can't deny it anymore. Eli is no longer a baby. He is a walking, babbling, adventerous little boy who had a great time at the park today.
He loved playing with the wood chips. He wasn't so sure about wearing that pesky hat - but the sun was so strong that I wanted to protect his fair head.
He had the best time over at this sand table, where he lifted and dropped sand into a bowl over and over and over again...

Yes, I took a ton of pictures. It's still a novelty to me that my little boy can now play (mostly) independently at the park. He is so much fun.

Aarah and Eli on a Warm Summer Night

This was taken at a get-together last weekend. You may not be able to see it on the small version of this picture, but Eli and I both have a nice shiny glow from the high, high humidity that day. It was stormy that afternoon and the bugs were out to get me... I have so many pesky mosquito bites from that night! I love Chicago in the summer though - everything is lush and green and you almost forget how miserable the last 8 months of winter were :)
(A friend emailed this picture to me, and I thought it would be fun to post since I am usually the one taking the pictures.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How to Eat a Watermelon

Here are some shots of Eli eating watermelon and cheese at dinner tonight. Doesn't that sound appetizing? Eli was really stuffing his cheeks full of food. He liked it a lot, especially the watermelon.
My favorite part of this was that with each piece of watermelon, he would squeeze it tight so the juice would drip out and then stuff it in his mouth. Silly boy! He was really sticky by the end of dinner...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Boy in Blue

I snapped some pictures of Eli early this morning as we were playing with his toys. Last night he slept in this blue onesie because it was once again oh-so-humid... someday I vow to live in a place with central air conditioning! Thankfully it's cooled off some after a big rain this afternoon and we're all more comfortable.

In our effort to de-clutter, we cleaned out the items in the cabinet that serves as our entertainment center, and now we can throw most of Eli's toys in there. It's great, except for when Eli decides to pull everything out... :)

Eli really loves Bob the sheep. Bob is hard to clean, however, so he doesn't sleep with him. Instead, he gives the sheep loves multiple times a day when he is playing with toys.

Pictures above and below show Eli playing with an empty milk jug that he found in the kitchen, waiting to go out to the recycling bin. He tried hiding the jug behind the Leapfrog table without much success, so he opted to just carry it around our condo instead.

Ben and I love watching Eli walk - he kind of waddles side to side with very heavy feet. If he weighed more, I bet his steps would be pretty loud. I'll try to get a video clip sometime soon to capture this cuteness! Seeing these pictures of our boy in blue makes me want to reach over and squeeze those chubby legs of his... :)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Crazy Week

It's been a crazy week, which explains my lack of posting. After much deliberation, Ben and I actually decided to put our condo up for sale (our orig. plan was to wait until next spring, but we changed our minds). We found a house that falls in the sort of-affordable range (for around here at least) and while it needs lots of work, it could be a really neat place. And the location is the best - it's a 3-minute walk to the train for Ben and the house faces a cute park - what more could you ask for??

So now the fun begins. We started boxing things up on Monday and had some friends from the ward come on Thursday to help Ben move junk into a storage unit, with the hope that this would clear our place of the clutter we've accumulated in the last six years. We filled at least 30 boxes, moved out two bookcases, a dresser, a trunk, and a few other things, and what a difference!

We had our first showing yesterday and have an open house planned for this afternoon. We're selling by owner and will keep you posted on what happens. My biggest nightmare is that the house we love will go under contract before we have a solid offer on our place (a problem b/c the house sellers aren't taking contingency offers, which really limits us since we need the money from our condo for the down payment on this house).

One funny thing - my mom came on Friday to help with Eli (but stayed much longer to help get our place ready... thank you!!). We have something called the Flip Fold, that I bought from the Container Store last year, but then never got around to learning how it worked (I am terrible at folding clothes nicely). Well, we opened it up and my mom flipped and folded ALL of our pants, shirts, etc. so they would look good in our closets. My clothes have never been folded so well!! And it's really easy to use - you'll have to check out the link to see the demo on the Flip Fold site.

Here are some pictures from this week:

Above and Below: Eli still adores his sheep rug from Gram! We have had some miserably hot and humid days this week (yesterday it was 93 percent humidity with tornado warnings), hence Eli wearing just the cute Beatles onesie :)

Below: Eli's favorite hiding spot - the radiator cover in the living room. He loves flipping up the panel (inside is where you open or close the radiator) and putting little treasures inside... whenever I can't find something, I check this spot - and it's usually there!

Below: A small portion of the boxes before we packed this week. Eli loved having an obstacle course and had fun peeking around them to see us.

Below: The living room after we got rid of the boxes, hallelujah!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Hilarious Video of Eli and the Sheep

This is a video from after the birthday party on Saturday night. We went back to our condo with my parents, Davey, and Gram and opened presents. Gram gave Eli this small sheepskin rug from Ikea and he went CRAZY - he was so so excited about it. It's a long video (4 minutes) but he does some pretty funny things throughout the clips. And at the very end he looks at me and says "Aarah" (Sarah) - so you can hear that it's really what he calls me :)

We think this is especially funny because he loves his stuffed animal sheep, Bob, and now has a strong affection for this very soft rug.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Party for Ben's 30th and Eli's 1st Birthdays

I decided to throw a party for both Ben and Eli since they were celebrating big birthdays this year - Ben's 30th and Eli's 1st. Well, when I put the invite list together, I didn't really think we would get a good majority of attendees since Saturdays in the springtime are so busy... but we did! Including babies, children, and adults, there were 89 people at our party at the park (not hard to do considering many families had at least one child and many with two or three).

I was a little nuts at the end trying to get everything together, but it was a success thanks to help from my Mom who made 53 (?) cupcakes and Gram who made two large Texas sheet cakes. Friends brought chips, veggies, dip, salsas, fruit, etc. for people to munch on. Some of our friends going to Kellogg b-school came from an activity and brought the leftover ribs and cornbread, which was a nice addition! I spent six hours on Friday night baking chocolate chip cookies (167 in total) for party favors for each family, and then we had small bottles of bubbles for each child.

Below: 1) On the way to the park, Eli loved having a car full of balloons. 2) Gram setting up the candles, that we later couldn't get to stay lit because of the wind. 3) The table of sweets! 4) My dad and Eli. 5 and 6) Eli with me and Ben. He was in good spirits through most of the party, which I was so thankful for. 7) Sarah C. and Kelly, who brought the ribs and cornbread - yum! 8) Eli with some of his favorite people, Sharon, Maggie, and Ivy. 9) The snack table.

Below: 1) Geoff the Cubs fan talking with Brett and James. Yeah for another Cubs win yesterday! 2) Saralyn holding Will, talking with Davey. 3) Keenan, Rebekeh, Cami, and various kids. 4) Khania and her mom, and Katrina and Macy. 5) Rachael and Nathan, Sarah and Jenn. 6) Katie and Tommy with kids at the drinking fountain. 7) Mark, Mike and Steve. 8) The Ryans. 9) Kids playing at the park.

Below: 1) Drew playing catch. 2) Tommy again at the water fountain (it was a popular spot for the kids). 3) Drew at the fountain. 4) George at the fountain. 5) Sharon helping Eli try out the fishing booth. 6) Caroline holding sparkly shoes. 7) Eli chugging water. 8) Me trying to light the candles (unsuccessfully). 9) Getting ready to sing happy birthday.

Below: 1) Still trying to light the candles, with help from Kelly and Gram. 2) The crowd. 3) More of the crowd. 4) We eventually just had Eli try to blow out a match since the candles weren't staying lit. 5-9) Feeding Eli and Ben cupcakes.

Below: 1) Eli being snuggly. 2) Gram passing out cake and cupcakes. 3) The group enjoying sweets. 4-6) Happy Eli. 7-9) Eli not as sure about this party (the last one is with my mom).

Below: 1) Gram with baby Isaiah and Alice. 2) Sarah, Davey, Carrie and baby Jacob. 3) Heather with baby Tabitha. 4) The Paxton family riding bikes back home (they rode 5 miles+ round trip to come to the party!). 5) Eli playing with Ben and my parents. 6) Caroline blowing bubbles. 7 and 8) Eli with my dad and Alex. 9) Jenn holding Isaiah.

Below: Eli had fun with my mom finding sticks and walking along the path to the playground.

Below: Opening gifts at home. Eli got such a fun variety of things, ranging from sand toys from my parents, an Ikea sheepskin rug that he LOVED and kept rolling around on (video to come soon - it's hilarious), a cute sand bucket with bubbles and fun things, a fun fishing bath toy, a darling Evanston hoodie, and three books - Noisy Jungle, Tails, and Gallop (all great books!). Ben received a purple African shirt from our friend Alice (she made the shirt, including dyeing it) who is here as a refugee from Liberia/Sierra Leone.

All in all, it was a really fun day! Thanks to everyone who came and celebrated with us.