A Visit From Santa...FOR REAL

9:59 PM Posted by Natalie

So it's been awhile since I've blogged....or even entered a giveaway for that matter, so you KNOW it's been seriously busy around here, LOL! Christmas has been a whirlwind of comings and goings, family, food, wrapping paper, kid mischief, dog peeing on the Christmas tree (twice), and general holiday chaos. Sit back and grab some cookies and milk....

Christmas Eve was spent at my dad's house. We had a wonderful time! The food was AWESOME (who knew Aldi's ham was so delicious?!?!) and, of course, the kids loved opening presents. Shaun and I made out pretty good ourselves....I got a DARLING beret and matching scarf that my stepmom crocheted and Shaun got a Harley Davidson mug with flames that turn bright orange when you put hot coffee in it, plus we both got a little Christmas cash. We got home late that night and didn't get the kids into bed until almost 10:00. Shaun and I were up wrapping and assembling until about 2:00 a.m.

We hadn't set the alarm because we thought the kids would surely be up at the crack of dawn anxious to open their presents, but they fooled us and Alec didn't come in to get us until 7:48. YIKES!!! We had to open presents, eat breakfast, and get everyone off to church for the 10:00 Mass. By the grace of God, we got there just in time. We had told everyone a long time ago that after the move, we weren't going to want to run all over town on Christmas and they would just have to come here. Shaun smoked a turkey breast and my sister, mom, and stepdad came over with my grandma and uncle joining us later. It all turned out very well.

Friday night, my brother John, sister-in-law Carmela, and their 4 girls got into town from Colorado. They were staying at my mom's, so Saturday afternoon we went over there to visit with all of them and give the kids their gifts. The kids all had a blast together and Shaun and I were determined that we would get the kids home and into bed on time for the first time pretty much the whole week. As we were gearing up to leave, my brother came down from upstairs and said, "Mom, I think we've discovered a felony." Uh oh.

The kids had been playing upstairs a lot that evening, and I thought that maybe someone had broken something. No, that wasn't it. Apparently, some unidentified children had decided to display their artistic abilities ALL OVER my mom's walls! Upon further investigation, my niece Juliana, who is just 6 months older than Lauren, confessed that she and Lauren were the perpetrators. So, John, Carmela, Shaun, and I went upstairs to assess the damage and try to get it off the walls. It wouldn't have been so bad except that one of the girls was armed with a pencil and one had a PEN. (I think Lauren had the pen.) John had initially asked my mom if she had some of the paint left and suggested it might be easier just to paint over it. She wasn't fond of that idea, but only had one Magic Eraser (God's gift to parents) which I pulverized getting one of the masterpieces off the wall on the landing. Grams said she had some at home, so we had to wait for mom to take grandma home and get the erasers and bring them back. After scrubbing with those, alcohol, hairspray, whatever we could get our hands on, mom finally broke out the paint. Ummm.... So, needless to say, our brilliant plan for getting home earlier and getting the sleep-deprived, over-stimulated children to bed went right out the window.

Sunday was a calmer day. After Mass, my sister and I decided to take Alec and Joey to Denny's, something we hadn't done in a long time. We had no idea we were going to be bombarded with heavy questions like what a "modern Catholic" is and how babies get in your belly. OY!

And then there was today....

It all began fine enough. We got out of bed, I made the kids some cinnamon rolls, and we got to work around the house rather promptly. My dad came over around 10:00 to help Shaun work on Joey's room and I cleaned the house. After lunch, Alec started coloring and Lauren wanted to join in. Okay. I had forgotten that in the bucket of crayons was a child's scissors. Yep. I was looking something up on the computer when Alec yelled that Lauren was trying to cut his paper with the scissors. Sometimes I can be so dense. I said, "Take them from her and put them up!" Alec is 5. A few minutes later, I went into the kitchen, put something in the trash, then turned around and noticed that Lauren was covered in hair. HER HAIR!!! That's right, she gave herself a haircut, a half mullet no less. All the while Alec had been sitting right next to her and had not said a word. AHHH!!!! Why didn't I do the parental thing and go get the scissors from her myself 5 minutes ago?!?! Why had I trusted a 5 year old to do what I should have done? Don't I learn? I mean, especially after 5 other children apparently didn't notice the two partners in crime scribbling all over the walls at my mom's? I can chuckle about it a little now, but I was really upset at the time. Lauren had a baby mullet for a long time because the sides of her hair grew so much slower than the back. FINALLY her hair had caught up and now she had to go cut half of one side off! There's really no fixing it, I will just have to wait until it grows enough to go get it evened out. Would you like to see her new do?

See where it's all hacked off on that side? Cute, huh? Ah, my daughter, the artiste.

So that brings us to this evening and the visit from Santa. I had felt bad that we hadn't gotten the kids to see Santa this year. With the move, the week of sickness, and trying to get everything done for Christmas, we just plain ran out of time. We did the best we could and just couldn't make it happen. Although, the kids did not seem to really notice. No one bugged us about it or asked why they hadn't gone to see Santa. Well, this evening, Shaun's dad and stepmom came for their after-Christmas visit. I had no idea that his stepmom's sister was coming, too. And her husband, Dave. Dave is a big man with a white beard. I hadn't thought too much about it until he rang the door bell and I let him in. Kyle and the others had come to the door by that time to see who was here, and I swear the first words out of Kyle's mouth were, "It's Santa!" And so it was. I really think they believed that's who he was, and Dave played the part like a pro (of course, he gets this all the time). Now, how could seeing Santa at the mall possibly be better than Santa coming to YOUR house for pizza?!?! Kyle was right up in the chair next to him while we ate. Alec asked me almost frantically, "Mom, where is my picture for Santa?" A little while back, Alec drew a picture of Santa. Thank God I saved it and put it in the drawer with all their coloring books and stuff. I found it in the drawer and he gave it to "Santa". The whole thing was the cutest thing I think I have ever witnessed. Thanks, Dave, for making this an extra special day! Here are a few pictures....

So that was our Christmas in a nutshell. Oh yeah, Rex peed on the Christmas tree today, too. Twice. I think maybe he got overly excited. We had had 3 little girls from a couple of houses down come up today. I looked out the window in the basement at one point and saw the boys trotting through the yard with 3 new girls running right behind them. I just started laughing....my boys, the studs! Anyway, they had been in the house, then the company came, then the girls came to the door again with their mom who came bearing brownies (have I mentioned I love this place?). I guess it was just too much. Either that, or Rex had finally realized there was one tree left here that he hadn't peed on yet....

Home Sweet Home!

3:49 PM Posted by Natalie

We closed on our house today!!! FINALLY this whole mess is over and now we feel like we have not just a house, but a HOME. It's done, it's ours, and we are so relieved. Thank you, God! Now Shaun can drill the hole in the floor for my internet hookup and get rid of the hoosier network of wires we've got running all over the place, LOL! I hear the drill now.....

Yet Another Hitch

11:15 PM Posted by Natalie

Yes, I know I posted that we are still on track to close tomorrow. However, now it seems we are not. When we were told a couple of weeks ago that we would have to go with the conventional loan instead of VA, we were told that the amount of the downpayment would be 5%. Because we knew we had to do whatever we had to in order to close on this house, Shaun took a loan from his retirement account for that amount. However, last week we decided to go with another bank with a lady referred to us by the seller's agent. Everything went smoothly and we finally felt like we had found someone that actually knew what they were doing. However, because of the screw-up by the people we dealt with at Wells Fargo, our debt-to-income ratio was just a little bit too high with the rental house since the rent does not count toward Shaun's income. Therefore, we had to come up with a bigger downpayment. $3000 more.

Rather than try to borrow the money from a family member, Shaun decided to return the check we'd already received to his retirement account and request the additional amount for the downpayment. We were supposed to receive the check today. Can you guess where I'm going with this??? Apparently there was a snaffoo with Prudential and the returned check was not deposited when it was supposed to be, meaning the new check had not been sent out when it was supposed to be. It was not here today, it will not be here tomorrow. Shaun inquired about having the money wired, but he was told they couldn't do that. Despite what we have been through with this whole mess, I admit I am a little surprised. I really, truly thought that tomorrow was going to be the day. I mean....seriously?!?! Is there a hidden camera somewhere? Are we being punked?

I don't think the seller's agent is too happy. Shaun spoke with him tonight and he said, "We HAVE to close tomorrow." Yeah, we know. He claims that the seller of the house our seller is buying is not going to be willing to extend the closing again. Pffft. By the time she got all her stuff out of that house and we got out of here, it would be Monday anyway! And they're gonna kick people out of homes days before Christmas?!?! Well, I'd say no one is that cruel, but I know that isn't really true. We've been screwed from the very beginning of this whole fiasco and I'm pretty sure none of the people involved care. Anyway, he said he has had some success with getting money wired from retirement accounts before and Shaun is meeting with him at 9:00 tomorrow morning. Hey, go for it, guy! We want this done and over as much as everybody else in this whole deal. We can't take anymore. We never wanted ANY of this. If it were up to us, we'd have closed on this house 2 weeks ago!!! We're decent, reasonable, intelligent people. It's pure insanity really.

So, there ya have it and there ya are. This is still not over. I don't know what will happen tomorrow. At this point, I can't care so much. I think I'm numb. Whatever. All I can do is pray.

This and That

8:55 PM Posted by Natalie

Well, the dreaded stomach bug has made it through 4 out of the 6 of us. I fell victim on Friday. Seems I can never avoid it when the kids get it. I've had it practically every year since Joey was born. Every time I wash my hands until they literally bleed, despite the fact that I know it is probably to no avail. After all, I was exposed to it before anyone got sick, and then it is likely too late. Ah, well....such is life and I am better now. It's just been a really tough time to have it going through the house with the move and Christmas right around the corner.

In other news, it seems that we are still on track to close on the house on Friday (fingers crossed). The seller's realtor came by yesterday to get the lock box off the door and put the sold sign out. Once those papers are signed and the deal is finally done, I will finally feel more at home here. The boys are totally enjoying being free to run and play outside and ride their bikes. We were on such a busy road at the old house that that just wasn't possible without an adult going along with them. Now I can watch from the house and know they are safe. They have already made some friends and it pleases me to no end. This is what being a kid is all about and I feel like we are finally somewhere they are able to do more of that good kid stuff.

Our next door neighbor came by today with her 2 girls, one 9 and one 7, so perfect ages for the boys. She brought a plate of little Christmas goodies and I was so impressed! I didn't realize people still did that and I am glad to be joining a community where they do. However, I was not happy that I looked like a complete bum! Recovering from battling the super puke bug all week is not the best look, let me tell ya. Oh well, we're going to be here for a long time to come, so surely she'll see me on some of my better days ;) Interestingly enough, while we were chatting she asked about where the boys go to school. As it turns out, her girls go to school very near where Joey and Alec do! Perhaps down the road that might even be a possible carpool. I wouldn't mind going somewhere nearby for her girls if she wouldn't mind doing it for my boys. Something to think about, that's for sure.

There's still a lot to do between now and Christmas. The craziness of this past week with the sickness and all has put me way behind where I'd like to be. I hope to have Christmas decorations up and do the trip to see Santa this weekend. It's going to be busy, busy. But I just keep reminding myself that after this year, things we'll be much more settled, though probably not less crazy!

Okay, off to do some online shopping! It may be the only way I can get things done!

Back online! Please pray for my sanity

12:06 AM Posted by Natalie

Perhaps you didn't even know I was gone ;) We moved into our new house last weekend. However, the loan process has been a huge disaster and we have STILL not closed on the house. The seller agreed to let us take early possession and we figured we would be closing this Friday. That is not going to happen. She was kind enough (very, very kind) to let us have the house rent-free this past week, but the agreement was that if we didn't close on the date we were supposed to, we would start paying rent of $25/day until we close. I cannot begin to tell you how many problems we have had with the process of refinancing our old house, renting it out, and getting the loan for this house. We had been told (lied to) that this would not be a problem, that it was done all the time. Had we known what a difficulty this would be and how close we would come to being left homeless with 4 children right before Christmas, we never would have done it. We had a house. Maybe we didn't think it was the best house, but it was a house, and we could've stayed there until we had all of this figured out.

I won't even begin to get into the details of what has transpired because it's just too much and I don't even understand half of it. It suffices to say that Wells Fargo screwed us BIG TIME. It seems that now, working with like the 5th or 6th different person, things are finally starting to fall into place. However, we've had to make a lot of adjustments and come up with some creative solutions to the mess we were put in the middle of. We are having to come up with a downpayment on the house that we were not anticipating, money we do not have. Today we had to pay for a second inspection because we'd already had one done through the original company we were working with and the new bank has to have its own. We had no choice but to continue with the process and do whatever we could to get this done because we have renters living in our house and a woman moved into her new one, counting on the sale of this one. We got screwed and now we just gotta do what we gotta do. I just want to feel like I am living in MY HOME instead of someone else's house, which is technically what we are doing right now.

Meanwhile, as we try to dig out of this mess and settle in here, the stomach flu is raging through the house. Alec started with it Monday night and I had him at Urgent Care this morning. It looks like he has finally kicked it. Lauren got sick this morning, and Kyle got it tonight. Kids have been puking in beds, on floors, the couch, clothes, whatever, and we have been running laundry non-stop. Nevermind that we can't find a damn thing and are far from even looking settled, we needed a good dose of the stomach flu thrown in for good measure. AHHHH!!!

So maybe it's a bit of a pity party. Yep, it is. I'm so freakin' tired, I'm angry, I'm scared, I've been without internet since last Friday, my hands are so dry and cracked from washing and cleaning that they're bleeding, and I'm sick of puke. There are still 3 of us left that could end up with it. Wouldn't that be fun? No sign of Christmas around this house. Heck, our Christmas stuff is still in the stupid storage locker! I know I still have much to be thankful for and shouldn't take for granted. I know. But yeah, I'm back online and throwing one heck of a pity party tonight to celebrate!

A Testament to Life

10:26 PM Posted by Natalie

I told the story last week of the very early arrival of my stepsister's baby at about 28 weeks. I am happy to tell you that tiny Marcy is doing remarkably well. She has now been taken completely off of the oxygen, off of the bili lights, and no more IV....just a tube in her nose where she is getting mommy's milk. Isn't that amazing? Just look at her:

Now, being Catholic and pro-life, of course this also got me thinking about a truly tragic and horribly sad fact....babies just like little Marcy are aborted and/or left to die in this country every day. When they are born alive, they are put in closets and left alone as they take their last breaths. Or, they are partially delivered, then stabbed in the head to have their brains sucked out until their skull collapses. With Barack Obama in the White House, the Freedom of Choice Act is likely to become a reality. Obama, known for his support for leaving children born alive as the result of a "botched" abortion (I'd call it a miracle) to die. Why? Some liberal spin about it placing undue burden on the mother and physicians or some such abominable nonsense. He also voted against the ban on partial-birth abortion because he believes in exceptions in the case of the health of the mother.

Now let me tell you something here...my stepsister was at great risk as she carried little Marcy as long as she could. Without being under the close watch of medical staff in a hospital, she could have hemorrhaged and possibly bled to death. Fortunately, they kept the bleeding under control and it was contractions that couldn't be stopped that forced Marcy's early delivery. But had it been because they couldn't control the bleeding, the result would have been the same. No, Marcy did not need to be murdered to save Keri's life! The goal in any such situation should be to save BOTH the mother and the baby. It is never necessary to murder a baby to save the mother. In fact, I believe even the AMA has said so.

Meanwhile, my friend Tony and his wife Deanna have had to jump through hoops upside down and backwards to the point of being emotionally and financially drained to adopt a child from China. We don't have enough babies here for couples who cannot have their own because they are being murdered. Babies these couples would give anything to have and to love. Babies just like precious Marcy, who is perfect from head-to-toe and living and breathing on her own at least 10 weeks before she should have even been born.


5:43 PM Posted by Natalie

Sew Blessed by Jenise ~ Countdown to Christmas Giveaway

Jamie's Precious Peas is having a giveaway for a $10 gift certificate to Sew Blessed by Jenise. She offers some absolutely adorable monogrammed totes, cosmetic bags, and other personalized handmade items. I want this:

It's a bible cover/case, but I go to the Traditional Latin Mass and need it for my Latin/English missal (book we use to pray along with the Mass) which is about the size of a small bible. Juggling 4 kids and a purse, it's sometimes awkward and difficult to carry. The handles on this case would make it so much easier! They sell book covers for the missals, but they're plain and don't have the handles like this one. These books are not cheap, my cover is beginning to tear, and I've had to retrieve mine from the lost and found more than once! And look how cute and trendy it is! Pink and brown are my favorite color combo. If I win, I am SO getting me one! And if I don't, maybe I can talk my hubby into getting it for me for Christmas ;)

Check out Sew Blessed by Jenise and head on over to Jamie's Precious Peas for your chance to win!

Good news!

11:07 AM Posted by Natalie

Well, we are still waiting for word on our loan for the new house, but even if we don't close on Friday as planned, we can still move into the house on Saturday. WHEW!!! Of course, closing on Friday would be ideal, as we could go ahead and start taking some things over to the house that evening, but as long as we won't have to live in one of these boxes, I'm cool with that. We can still start loading things up and get started first thing Saturday morning.

I have been somewhat reserved with my excitement up until now because of the loan thing hanging over our heads, but I think I'm finally starting to get there. It will be a crazy holiday season for us with all this going on, but what a Christmas gift!

Win a KEEN pair of shoes!

9:01 PM Posted by Natalie

KEEN Footwear Giveaway!

Alyson over at 3 P's in a Pod is hosting a fabulous giveaway for your choice prize from KEEN Footwear! KEEN Footwear combines outdoor styling with current trends, making them a versatile shoe for any lifestyle, indoors and out. Not only are their shoes functional and stylish, but they are a quality product that will last. And don't worry, they offer shoes for the entire family! KEEN Footwear also puts their money where their mouth is by giving back. Through December 25th, they are donating $5 for each purchase to local shelters and food banks. In addition, KEEN Footwear participates in 1KG More, a charitable program that helps provide shoes and school supplies to the Sichwan Province in China. I'm entering to try to win a pair of shoes for my dear husband. He deserves a nice, well-made, good-looking pair of shoes, and we chose the Austin. I was so pleased that he actually liked one of the styles I picked! So head over to 3 P's in a Pod and enter to win your own pair of KEEN Footwear! Just click the link above or go here.