Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Public School Experiment

Our ten year old daughter has always wanted to "try" school.  We've considered it many times because we know she has the personality type to love it.  We also know that we have developed a lifestyle that we love and seem to be succeeding on an academic scale within our home school.  I don't like rocking the boat just for the sake of rocking it--life sends enough waves to keep us rocking as much as necessary.

But, when we moved into my parent's basement last week, my sister (who lives next door) wondered if we might let the girl go to school with her cousin for a few days of the end of the school year.  She contacted the principle and the teacher and they said it was fine with them.

I gave our daughter hot lunch money and let her excited self head to the bus stop.  She was so excited!  She had her clothes laid out the night before, she was up at the crack of dawn, she sat in front of her breakfast for a long time as I insisted she try to eat something and my mom picked up a new notebook and package of pencils for her to put in her backpack.

She had an absolutely wonderful experience.  I am glad, but I also reminded her that this was not going to be the norm.  She also needed to understand that what she was experiencing was the ideal public school experience based on the following points:

  1. Her teacher is Miss Ballou.  She was my teacher in the third grade and was one of my two favorite teachers of my entire educational career.  She is really wonderful.  Not all teachers are wonderful.
  2. My daughter is in fourth grade, but is attending a third grade class.  Very little of the work has been challenging to her--cursive is about the hardest thing she's done.
  3. She is the cute little new girl so everyone wants to be her friend and play with her at recess.
  4. It is the end of the school year so much of the serious learning is out the window.
  5. The bus is only fun for a few days.  It then becomes a long, hot, bumpy ride with obnoxious kids every morning and every afternoon.
Like I said, of all of my kids, she is the one who would love school, so that is contributing to the thrill ride that she is on.  I'm glad she gets to do it and now is a great time.  

But she had better not get used to the nice teacher because before she knows it, I'll be her teacher again.  Bwahahaha!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

One Flesh

When I went to the doctor on Friday morning to confirm my worst fear, my husband was already at his new job over 500 miles away from me.  The plan was that he would live with his parents for two weeks while the big kids and I finished packing and cleaning the house before our closing date.  When we learned that Eowyn had passed away, Justin and my mom immediately got on the road to start the eight to nine hour drive.

I had so many questions and people I thought I should call.  I knew there were decisions to be made, but I couldn't think clearly or do anything until Justin was home.  My repeated thought was, I just have to wait for Justin.

At the same time, and unbeknownst to me, Justin was having virtually the same thought.  He was getting feedback from several sources.  All were doing their best to be helpful, but he kept saying, I don't know.  I just have to get to Emily.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  Genesis 2:24
This passage took on a new depth.

Last night, my husband did something funny.  It was completely unintentional, but it pricked my funny bone and I started laughing.  He tried to make it better and only succeeded in making it worse.  I couldn't stop laughing.  He saw the humor in it and starting laughing, which only feed my growing hysteria.  Tears streaked down my cheeks as we laughed together.

It felt so good to laugh . . . and to cry for a whole different reason.

It was only fitting that he was the instigator.  The loss of our daughter is difficult, but together, we will be okay.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Looking Better

My eyelids were chapped from crying all week.  I have a saggy belly and some pregnancy weight to lose (without the help of breastfeeding) and all of my non-maternity clothes are packed tightly in my sister-in-law's garage--somewhere between the washing machine and the crystal platters.  After wearing maternity clothes or pajamas every day and feeling about as ugly as possible, I finally told my husband that I needed to go buy myself at least a pair of jeans that fit.

I got five shirts and two pairs of jeans and didn't pay more than $7.50 for any one piece.  I mean, I needed to feel pretty again, but I'm still cheap.

It was my first outing since we lost Eowyn.  It was difficult to see the pregnant women and to even walk by the baby sections in the department store.  I don't know how long this will take; I've never before lost someone so close to me and I'm beginning to see that it will take a while.

But, I do know that today I feel much better because I at least look nice.  I even put on make-up.

One step at a time, right?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

We Have An Angel

We lost our beloved baby on Monday morning, stillborn at twenty-one weeks.
Seeking comfort, I found this quote from an address given only weeks ago:
At times it may seem that our trials are focused on areas of our lives and parts of our souls with which we seem least able to cope. Since personal growth is an intended outcome of these challenges, it should come as no surprise that the trials can be very personal—almost laser guided to our particular needs or weaknesses. And no one is exempt, especially not Saints striving to do what’s right. Some obedient Saints may ask, “Why me? I’m trying to be good! Why is the Lord allowing this to happen?” The furnace of affliction helps purify even the very best of Saints by burning away the dross in their lives and leaving behind pure gold. 6 Even very rich ore needs refining to remove impurities. Being good is not enough. We want to become like the Savior . . . (Elder Paul V. Johnson, General Conference Address, April 2011)
It has been a deeply sad experience, but it has also been very sacred.  Heaven was (is) near and angels were in our room.   

Eowyn Sanders
Our Angel
May 23, 2011
Psalms 138:3

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Without Them

My husband and two youngest children have already moved.  Their dressers are empty, their toys are packed and there is no one to fill their spot in bed.  In some ways, it has been super sad.  We love the three of them and they play a vital role in our family.  But, Justin had to get to the new town to start work.  He needed a car and we are in a good walking area.  He took the van and I'll only have three seat belts in the moving truck, so he took two of the girls with him (our son will be staying here with a friend (THANK YOU, BETHANY) for another month to attend a ballet Summer Intensive workshop.  I'm telling you--that was a trick to figure out how to get us all to the right place at the right time!

My parents and sister have answered the call and are keeping my little ones.  (Justin stops in to visit, but his hours are early and long and he still has research projects to complete so he can't have them for too long.)  They are having the time of their young lives!  My five-year-old called this morning.  She didn't even say hello, she just jumped to, "MOM!  My hair is curly!"  I asked her how that happened and she said, "Grandma has this thing that she just wrapped it around and it's called a, What is it called Grandma?  Oh, yeah.  A curling iron.  You should get one of those, Mom!"  She also said they get to do whatever they want at Grandma's.  They are going to have a tea party today.

The two year old doesn't quite get what's going on.  She keeps telling us to finish cleaning our rooms and to get our shoes on so we can come to Grandma's house, too.

The added bonus to having them out of the house already is that we can get the house packed without their "help."  Yesterday, for instance, I had the black Sharpie out the entire day, just sitting there, on the floor.  And no one picked it up to color on the walls, themselves or the furniture.  Also, we left the front door open for much of the day and no one ran into the street or escaped to the neighbor's house.

I'm also learning a few things.  One, these kids are close.  My four girls share one set of bunk beds.  On the drive back, the older two were so excited that they would get their own beds.  That night, however, they were lonely without their sisters, so they slept with each other.  There have been tears and sad looks whenever we have too much quiet time.  I was surprised by this reaction in the older children.

One other thing I'm learning, much to the dismay of the blamers, is that the youngest two take the blame for a lot of the mess around here that they didn't do!  There has been far too many reminders to complete simple tasks like putting away shoes, not leaving wrappers on the floor, and failing to put the dishes in the sink.  All along I thought it was mostly the doing of the little girls.  Not so.  These dang big kids have been found out!

I miss my girls and my sweetheart, but, for now, this is a good thing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Support Staff

I love my husband.  He really is my best friend and confidant.  The hardest part of being without him for any extended period of time is that he can see through my overly prominent  emotions and knows how to bring me back into balance; I'm not good at doing that on my own.

This weekend, while proposing to do the impossible, many people were telling us we couldn't do it; that we shouldn't try.  We have always tried to walk by faith while also using the brains the Lord has given us.  At one particularly frustrating moment, he, with a slightly mocking face, said, "The Lord wants you to build a boat?!"

Sometimes the things we are asked to do requires a great deal of courage, faith and looking at things from a foreign point of view.  Right now it feels like we've been asked to build a boat . . .

and I'm glad he's on my team.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Great Big No Go

The inspection on the haunted house was this morning.  From the pictures and from what everyone we sent over there could observe, there was a lot of work to be done.  We knew the house would need to be re-wired, there were issues with some parts of the roof, there was massive mold problems where shoddy DIY work was done and the aesthetics of the house were sorely lacking.  What we didn't know was that everything else was wrong as well.  The inspector, just getting ready to start the inspection, turned on the gas fireplace (pretty much the sole heat source) and it kept over-heating and shutting off.  Then he turned on the water and the water started spraying out of the knobs of the shower, leaking behind the shower, into an adjoining bedroom and down to the ground floor.  There was also water spraying out of the broken pipes that ran under the laundry.  We didn't even officially start the inspection since we knew we would need to cancel the deal as soon as the water started spraying everywhere.

So, we are out of our house in two weeks and we needed to find a place to live.  We looked at a few other places and think we have found a good alternative.  It is a longer commute (30 minutes), but in a super pretty area--right by a lake.  The house was built in 1980 so it has no character; it also doesn't have a kitchen.  But it also doesn't have flame-throwing wires or a rotten foundation. Good trade, I think.

Right now, I am sick of looking at details, talking about houses and thinking about money.  I am going to enjoy this great BBQ that my father-in-law has spread in the shady back yard and talk about bees and politics and the dating habits of my nieces and nephews.  It will be good to talk about someone else and their issues for a while!

I'll stay in touch.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Our family is not crazy-involved in every sport/instrument/educational lesson available. In fact, we try to be a little crazy-selective. Even with that, with the amount of people roaming the halls of my home, it is to be expected that we have an active schedule of outside-the-home opportunities for growth. Since our house sold, there has not been three days together when we could slip up to our new (old) homeland to look for houses. We have signed a contract with a house completely over the internet. We looked at pictures, had family look with their eyes and ears, read documents, signed, scanned and emails other documents back and still haven't even met Polly, our real estate agent. (I chose Polly, incidentally, because of her name. There were a few realtors with whom I was communicating and it came to the point where I had to pick one. I liked Polly's name the best.)

It finally got to the point where we just HAD to see the house. An inspection report wouldn't cut it; because of the condition of the house, Justin and I both felt like we need to be with the inspector when he exploring the place. This weekend, a couple of children will miss a couple of classes, but it had to be done. Right after their classes ended last night, we piled into the cars (it was cheaper to rent round trip than it was to rent it just one way!) and started our journey.

The drive starts in the high mountain desert and goes north, over several mountain passes and, apparently, a lot of deer range land. Starting at 6 pm doesn't give you much daylight so we were driving through some of the most twisted, treed, deered roadways at night. The bloody patches along the 80 mile-per-hour freeway don't lend much confidence either, but we made it (though we never got past 65 for the last three hours of the journey because of the herds of hoofed onlookers). Barely, I'm sure.

Even though my eyes were blurred and my head was foggy with sleep when we got up here, I was sorely tempted to drive by our haunted house. We didn't so I'll see it for the first time today.

I'll let you know how that goes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


We had our ultrasound today.  No matter how many times I see one, it is always magical to me.  Look at our beautiful baby.

We were glad to be reassured that there was only one baby in there (our boy was sure that if they were twins, they would both be girls).  The little one was not super cooperative so we'll have to go back to get better pictures of the heart.  We'll also make another try to discover the gender.  

This picture is of the crossed legs with the umbilical cord laying snuggly between them.  There was no discovering the nature of the parts today.

It's okay.  I'm getting used to a life of suspense.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Cover of a Book

There were two new girls women at church yesterday.  They were both in their early twenties and about two weeks away from having their first babies.  Being the outgoing person that I am, I sat next to them about ten minutes before the meeting started.  They looked at me like I was interrupting, so I sat quietly until they stopped visiting, at which point I introduced myself.  I asked about their pregnancies, their babies, how they were feeling, and other general, chatty questions.  I got one word answers.  Eventually, I backed away, getting the point that they didn't want to talk to me.  I wasn't offended because everyone handles being "new" differently and shy can sometimes come across as rude.  But a few minutes later, they crossed the line.

Carol* is a member of our congregation who suffers from mental illness.  She is super eccentric and has a sometimes surprising appearance.  Yesterday was no exception.  Her black hair had grown out from her most recent dye job and she sported about a half an inch of gray roots.  She wore her trademark bright coral pink lipstick and floral old-lady dress.  Over it all, she wore her faux leopard fur jacket.  I'll admit that she was a sight, but I have also come to know and love her over the last six years.  I know a bit about her life and her struggles.  She can be mean (and kind of scary to the kids) when she forgets to take her medicine, but she can also be wonderful and interesting.

When Carol stood up to say the prayer at the beginning of the meeting, these two new girls looked at each other and snorted.  I was furious.  I wanted to lay into them and shame them for mocking a woman whose history gave her permission to be a little crazy.  Why do we do that?  Why do we think it's okay to make fun or judge another person, assuming you can figure them all out just by a single glance?

I am on my way to a new place.  I certainly hope people don't look at me and think they know my whole story.  I will likewise make my greatest effort to give people a chance before I decide who they must be.  They may look like Carol and I may decide they are crazy, but they may also BE Carol and I would be remiss if I didn't give them a chance.

*Name has been changed.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What to Move

 What do I keep and pay to move and what do I toss and possibly do without for awhile until said item can be replaced?

I have a mangled griddle that needs to go, along with our three-legged waffle iron, the chipped dishes and the handle-less laundry baskets.  My vacuum cleaner is more duct tape than vacuum and this lamp on my desk works, but you have to unscrew the light bulb to turn it off.  All of these things need to go, but I also need these things (or something like them) and I won't have the money to replace them after the move.  Is it worth our money to move all of this junk?  Are you aware of the price of gas?  The lighter the truck, the better, but if the items in question still work, is it really junk?  What came first, the chicken or the egg?  Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?  Why is the word abbreviation so long and why am I the only one who closes the cabinet doors in my kitchen?

You more experienced movers, what would you suggest?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Making Reservations

We are less than one month from the big moving day and I think I'm still kind of in denial.  When we bought the house are currently in, I was super on the ball about getting address change cards to all of our subscriptions, utilities and mail service.  I was busy calling every insurer on the planet to make sure we were getting the best premium-to-coverage deal.  The truck was rented super early, I had collected boxes months ahead of time and I followed a detailed Moving Checklist carefully.

This time, well, it's different.  The house deals still feel iffy.  If the inspection goes badly on the haunted house we want, we won't have a house.  If the electrician that checked out our current house last week says we need to pour a billion dollars into wires and labor before the buyers will buy, then our house isn't actually sold.  If our house isn't actually sold, then we can't actually buy another one.

So, based on this frustrating level of limbo, I haven't called one doctor's office to ask for a referral or a record's transfer.  I haven't packed a single box since I packed away our non-essentials back in January while preparing the house to show.  I can't pack the winter clothes because it's still winter.  I don't want to pack the summer clothes because it could change to summer at any minute and I don't want to be stuck wearing sweatshirts and tennis shoes when the weather calls for t-shirts and flip-flops.  I haven't searched for the best phone deal because we might be needing to do the ol' switch to cell service due to several unusual life situations (more on that another time).  I haven't called the utilities because I'm just not sure where we will be living.  I haven't checked off anything from the Moving Checklist's Two Months Before You Move category--and we are well past that time!

I have only done one thing.  I reserved the biggest truck the rental places provide.  I only did that because they were having a deal.  When I clicked on the bright orange confirm button, I felt a wave of apprehension.  Why?  I can always cancel the reservation if our house sale falls through (a possibility I never even considered was possible with the sale of our last home).  Maybe I am mistakingly calling my feeling apprehension when it is really sadness over the end of this defining journey we have been on over the past six years.  Maybe it is a sense of grief over losing our close dependence on each other (and valued friends) because we have been so far from our extended family.

Ahhh, there it is.

You see?  This is why I have a blog.  As I type, tears are rolling down my checks.  I have identified the source of my previously confused feelings.  I am sad and I am grieving.  I don't want to leave this life I have loved--even while I am SO excited to start the next phase of our lives.  I am going to miss my home, my friends and this town, but mostly I am going to miss the family dynamic that we have established here.  Time marches on and my little people are growing.  It will never be this way again.  I suppose I have good reason to mourn.

Wow.  Okay, sorry for that, but thank you for letting me write.  I needed to realize what was really happening in my hopped-up-on-hormones emotional labyrinth.  Maybe I'll go watch Beaches or the last fifteen minutes of Toy Story 3 so I can get in a really good cry.

Talk to you soon,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Mistake

I made a big mistake yesterday.  During my pregnancies, I get heartburn.  It begins to increase in intensity the bigger my belly grows.  Last night, it was past the Tums stage and on to the Mylanta stage.  I picked up a bottle at my neighborhood grocery store, downed a couple of tablespoons (I don't even use the little measuring cup, I just chug it straight from the bottle--it's that good).  Then, I went to bed.

The heartburn didn't stop.  In fact, I then started having . . . without being too graphic . . . other digestive issues.

Geesh, I thought.  That generic Mylanta is crap.  I came upstairs to take another dose.  After taking another delicious, chalky, cherry-ish slug, I stood looking at the bottle.

I had not bought Mylanta.  I had bought Milk of Magnesia.

That is a laxative, not an acid reducer.

There are some aisles from which you should never just grab.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Near the Beginning

On Facebook this week, there are several people who are posting pictures of their moms in honor of Mother's Day.  I have some wonderful pictures of my mom, but I immediately thought of this one.  (Since my camera isn't working, I thought I'd scan this old photo for you.)  This was at Mom's Senior Prom circa 1973.  I love my dad's funky shirt.  His belt and hairstyle are back as is the long hair sported by my Mom (a lot like Gwyneth Paltrow without the blond).  They are young and happy and ignorant of what the next few decades will bring.

They just celebrated their thirty-ninth wedding anniversary.

While there are many, many differences between Mom and Dad, and Mom should be celebrated on this upcoming holiday, there isn't such a thing as Mom without Dad.  So, you're getting a picture of them both.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  I love you, and that companion of yours.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Calming Power of Faith

From Wikipedia:

Suspense is a feeling of uncertainty and anxiety about the outcome of certain actions, most often referring to an audience's perceptions in a dramatic work. Suspense is not exclusive to fiction, though. Suspense may operate in any situation where there is a lead up to a big event or dramatic moment, with tension being a primary emotion felt as part of the situation.  In broader definitions of suspense, this emotion arises when someone is aware of his lack of knowledge about the development of a meaningful event; thus, suspense is a combination of anticipation and uncertainty dealing with the obscurity of the future. 

We have been living with a certain amount of suspense around here these days.  It is beginning to lessen, but there are still several big, unanswered questions.  This state of tension has been difficult to overcome, making both my husband and I less effective in every other area of responsibility.  Just knowing a thing, even if the answer is difficult, is better than the waiting.  

My husband is in the middle of finals (his last ones ever!!).  He has struggled to focus on study because of this state of not-knowing.  This morning, during his scripture study, he found a quote in an institute manual.  I'd like to share it with you.

It takes faith—unseeing faith—for young people to proceed immediately with their family responsibilities in the face of financial uncertainties. It takes faith for the young woman to bear her family instead of accepting employment, especially when schooling for the young husband is to be finished. It takes faith to observe the Sabbath when ‘time and a half’ can be had working, when sales can be made, when merchandise can be sold. It takes a great faith to pay tithes when funds are scarce and demands are great. It takes faith to fast and have family prayers and to observe the Word of Wisdom. It takes faith to do ward teaching, stake missionary work, and other service, when sacrifice is required. It takes faith to fill foreign missions. But know this—that all these are of the planting, while faithful devout families, spiritual security, peace, and eternal life are the harvests. 
“Remember that Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and others could not see clearly the end from the beginning. They also walked by faith and without sight. Remember again that no gates were open; Laban was not drunk; and no earthly hope was justified at the moment Nephi exercised his faith and set out finally to get the plates. No asbestos clothes or other ordinary protective devices were in the fiery furnace to protect the three Hebrews from death; there were no leather nor metal muzzles for the mouths of the lions when Daniel was locked in the den. 
“Remember that there were no clouds in the sky nor any hydrometer in his hand when Elijah promised an immediate break in the long extended drouth; though Joshua may have witnessed the miracle of the Red Sea, yet how could he by mortal means perceive that the flooding Jordan would back up for the exact time needed for the crossing, and then flow on its way to the Dead Sea. 
“Remember that there were no clouds in the sky, no evidence of rain, and no precedent for the deluge when Noah builded the ark according to commandment. There was no ram in the thicket when Isaac and his father left for Moriah for the sacrifice. Remember there were no towns and cities, no farms and gardens, no homes and storehouses, no blossoming desert in Utah when the persecuted pioneers crossed the plains. And remember that there were no heavenly beings in Palmyra, on the Susquehanna or on Cumorah when the soul-hungry Joseph slipped quietly into the Grove, knelt in prayer on the river bank, and climbed the slopes of the sacred hill. 
“But know this: that undaunted faith can stop the mouths of lions, make ineffective the fiery flames, make dry corridors through beds of rivers and seas. Unwavering faith can protect against deluge, terminate drouths, heal the sick, and bring heavenly manifestations. Indomitable faith can help us live the commandments and thereby bring blessings unnumbered with peace, perfection, and exaltation in the kingdom of God. (Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Oct. 1952, 50–51).
We are not facing down hungry lions, an angry mob or a cloudless sky.  Our trials are custom fit for us and our own spiritual growth charts.  Sometimes it feels like it's too heavy, but when we remember that it is faith that will preserve us (and not "muzzles" or "asbestos clothes"), our burden is lightened.

Today, I am thankful for the words of a prophet to buoy and strengthen the feeble knees.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Addams Family's House

After following the market generally for three or four years, then very closely for the past three months, I feel like I have a pretty good idea about what is available and what is not in the area.  I have probably looked at every square inch of property within a thirty mile radius of Justin's residency.  When I first started looking for houses in January, there were at least fifteen houses with four bedrooms in our price range.  Now there is one.  It is not an ideal situation, but sometimes you have to be willing to live on a bit of faith.  The house is twice the size of our current home (four bed, two bath, two dining rooms, a library and a large living room), the yard is three times as large as our current yard, and it has a massive, three-story, four bay garage.  All of this for virtually the same price we paid for our current home--nearly six years ago.  Despite initial misgivings, we have made an offer on the only house (with enough space) in our price range.

Wanna see it?  K.

It is purple.  Not a soft lavender, but Frankenstein's Monster kind of purple.  The previous owners put this massive lead glass door on a converted-ish garage.  Why did they do that?  I have no idea, but it looks odd and was poorly done, so the whole thing will have to go.  We would convert it back to a garage and put on some pretty doors like these:
After the crazy, poorly finished (or unfinished) add-on's (a sauna!),

and the siding is scraped and repaired, I'm thinking something like this:

An indigo blue--not quite navy, but not royal either.  Something in the middle.  Then crisp up the edges with a  white trim to emphasize the unique gingerbreading and gables.  Put that quaint white picket fence in the front yard and cover it with climbing roses and morning glory.  Ahhh, my heart palpitates!

I had my brother-in-law, a roofer by profession, check out the roof. (Thanks, Sam!)  He says that with the exception of a few areas, the roof can be salvaged.  He told me what needed to be done, but I don't know what he said.  I try to take on a lot of projects, but climbing on a roof while pregnant is not my idea of being careful.  I know, lazy.  I will let the guys do this.

In the back is this humongous garage.

It's beautiful and has lots of potential uses.  I don't know what we'll do with it, but we have some ideas.

The yard is crazy and overgrown with haunted house trees and water features that weren't meant to be.  It will take a chain saw, a lawn mower, some raking and serious work to get it in line, but it will be wonderful.  You can prune trees in an afternoon, but you can't grow them over night.

And that's just outside.  Inside offers more delights!  The front door (with light nearly all of the way around it . . . we'll need to weather-proof that), tall ceilings, wood floors and a wood-burning stove.

Yes, the floors will need some help, but I imagine them looking like this:

Maybe not the wide plank, but I'm sure I can get that gorgeous color.

The stairs and banister are neat, but will need some serious attention.  Someone cut off half of the banister and shaved off the edges of the tread.  Why??  There is plenty of room to move in a couch or washing machine, so I'm not sure what they were going for here.  

Pretty, huh?

Next.  Under the stairs.

What is this reception area?  We think it may have been a brothel at one time; that wood is old.  It is not an office, but this is definitely an office feature.  Anybody know?

Here's a shot from the back.  What is that little cut-out on the side?  Someone please solve this mystery.

The kitchen has been painted in these awesome Christmas colors, plus an added bonus of the black walls.  Who paints walls black?  This room will see some expansion (a dishwasher) and a lot of paint.  I can't wait to lighten and brighten this room.  

I'm not exactly sure where we will go with it, but I'm loving these cabinets:

 I don't love the whole kitchen, but I do love the cabinets.  They aren't white, which is a big NO WAY at my house.  Here's another view, with the second dining room behind it.  I think this will be our library.  I don't know, yet.

I think a long desk along the windows with shelves lining the walls.  Put a couple of cushy chairs right as you come in and a pretty garden out the window and you have a perfect place for daydreaming and reading.

Something like this from Brooke at Velvet and Linen.

 Only smaller.  And less expensive.  And probably not as pretty.

There is more, so much more.  The downstairs bathroom with it's throne and double pedestal sinks.  (????)

Notice the tub faucet that was supposed to be installed vertically, but they didn't follow rules like that in this house.

The upstairs is wallpapered in . . . no, I'm not kidding . . . foil Christmas Wrap.  It's everywhere.  When we move in, I am expecting to find crystals and tarot cards.

 The . . . umm . . . shiny upstairs bathroom. 

 This is one bedroom looking into another.  I love the wood on the walls.  It will take a lot of paint to get them looking good, but they are cool!  The largest bedroom has these fabulous French doors that open onto a balcony.  My romantic daughters will love this feature!  Both the upstairs and downstairs has high ceilings and wood floors.  They just don't do that anymore.

So, there it is.  There is still a good chance that after the inspection we won't want to take on the house and all of it's challenges, but right now, I'm getting excited.  It has the best before pictures.

I mean, why prune the tree when you can just tie it up with a garden hose?