All Sorts of Emotions

We are moving in two days. I honestly can't believe it.

Laying in bed while the boys sleep, I've learned that I can only really have about three productive days a week. One day working and then next day, I'm going through the plan in my head for the next day, working out every detail. If you haven't guessed, yesterday was a productive day (my mom watched the boys so I could work in the attic) and I'm getting ready to tackle another day of productivity tomorrow.

But rather than make another to-do list, I'm trying to sort through some of my thoughts. There seem to be quite a few of them these days.

I feel anxious. Excited. Nervous. Sentimental.

Andy renovated this apartment three months before we got married. He put in stackable laundry. Redesigned the bathroom. Redid the kitchen. Installed a dishwasher. Layed down a new hardwood floor. Expanded our master suite to include a walk-in closet. Three months. He wanted this country bumpkin to be comfortable in the city. In our little apartment on the second floor. That was more than four years ago. And I've really enjoyed being here. We made our life here. As a couple, and then as parents.

My only idea of the city when I was growing up was going to the zoo. And my Aunt Mary and Uncle Ron's house. It felt like they lived in another state. The car ride felt like forever and we never left when it was light outside. They lived in the top floor of a house with an outside porch. Aunt Connie lived downstairs, though her porch was walled in. Even as a kid, I remembered liking that upstairs porch. It was amazing how much people watching you could do without leaving your front stoop. The houses were close together and we teased that we could run from one window into the other next door.

I would have never ever thought that I would be moving into the lower apartment of that house in just two days, my (late) Aunt Connie's old living area. After my husband had been working on it for only three weeks.

But leaving this apartment is bitter-sweet. This is where we lived after we were first married. Where we brought our boys home to after they were born. Where they first slept through the night, ate their first bite of cereal and where we fought to teach them how to share. So many memories have been captured between these walls. And now we will begin another journey, the next chapter of our story, just six blocks away.

This little girl, this country bumpkin is moving into her second city dwelling. And it excited about it. Very excited, actually. Gosh, I honestly would have never guessed. Not in a million years.


End of the Episode

My husband and I love watching home improvement shows. It is always neat to watch other people's dreams become reality! Since it's not always possible to see an entire show when it aires, we'll often DVR it so we can watch it later. And sometimes, I'll fast-forward to the very end just so I can see the before/after pictures.

So after working only three weeks on our 'new' apartment, here are a few of the before/after pictures. In other words, I'm fast-forwarding to the end of the episode for you.
The dining room BEFORE on July 7th

The dining room AFTER on July 25th

The living room BEFORE on July 7th

The living room AFTER on July 25th

Another view of the dining/living rooms. My boys LOVED running around their new space!

Boxes are being packed, bins are being labeled and we're making plans for our big moving day in just four more days. There are still minor things that need tweaking at the new apartment, but it's mostly ready. I am very much looking forward to being settled once again! Thank you for your prayers!


Zucchini Patties

There are some foods that I will always associate with summer. Hot dogs. Watermelon. Freezie-Pops. Zucchini Patties. Wait a minute, you've never had zucchini patties? Well, then you've never LIVED!

Alright, that was obviously an exaggeration. But I guarantee you'd add them to your summer favorites after trying this simple recipe! Especially if you grow zucchini in your garden, a vegetable you know that's always growing!

My mom would make zucchini patties on a night we were eating dinner on the grill. While Dad cooked the hot dogs and hamburgers, Mom would whip up these zucchini patties and we'd all burn our hands while eating them straight from the pan! I never remember having any when we sat down to dinner because they were all gone.

Some call them zucchini pancakes - they're essentially the same thing. Pancakes with zucchini, eaten without maple syrup. We had them for dinner last night with hot dogs and sweet corn on the cob. Here's how easy they are.

Zucchini Patties
1 zucchini, washed and grated
1 small vidalia onion, grated
1 egg
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1 c. Bisquick
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. This is what it looks like before the Bisquick.
Then add the Bisquick. I had a few willing hands to help stir:
Heat oil in the pan and then add large spoonfuls onto the pan. Let them cook through.
Flip when they're done (I cooked these a little too long, but they were still good!) Once they're flipped, flatten them with a spatula to be sure there's no batter left inside.
Take off of the heat once both sides are cooked. Put on a paper-towel covered plate and wait until they cool to serve. They go quickly! My boys can't get enough of them!


Walkthrough Wows

We had our walkthrough tonight, where our new owner took his last tour of our house as a guest. The next time he comes, he'll be the landlord.

The dining room is lined with bins. Labeled bins, of course. There are eighteen of them, lined three high and six across. Plus six more in the living room. There are dozens more in the attic, but this is a start. If you have any doubt that the people in this house are making plans to relocate, you needn't look further than the front door.

Brian, the new owner, came tonight with his mom, sister and his realtor. After they left, Andy and I regrouped and chatted about their visit. We laughed about some of the "wows" we heard during the walkthrough. Each one made me laugh.

"Wow, you're young."

Brian's mom hadn't met Andy before - just me and the boys - and she obviously had her own ideas about what this handy man was like. The man that poured his blood, sweat and tears into every inch of this apartment to make it comfortable for his soon-to-be-wife. She was convinced that such a skilled man was mature in years. At least more than thirty-five years young. I thought this honest statement was absolutely hilarious (and definitely made Andy feel pretty good about himself!)

"Wow, you're really organized."

Hmm. Must've been the labels on the bins. I love my labels. I love my bins. Or perhaps it was the shelving unit in the boys' room with their toys in Ziploc bags inside canvas totes. Yeah. I'm sure it was because of one of those things.

"Wow, you really do have a lot of stuff."

This observation came from Brian's sister after she saw the crazy amount of bins and equipment and furniture and empty boxes in the attic. Yup. We've got kids. Therefore, we've got a lotta stuff. Andy teased that we were candidates for the show "Hoarders" and they all laughed. Hard. "Wait a minute," he teased, "it wasn't that funny!"

And so the journey continues. We will sign some papers tomorrow that will acknowledge Brian as our new landlord. We will pay him rent for the rest of this month and then move into our apartment by August 1st. After tomorrow, our house will not be our own.



Destination: Six Blocks Away

I'm not exactly sure where I pictured we would be when we first started this house process three months ago, but I never could have imagined it ending quite this way.

We still haven't found a house. We looked at hundreds of houses online, dozens of them in person and seriously considered three of them. For many different reasons, however, nothing felt quite right. It felt like we were the ones pushing it along, not the Lord. We looked at our calendar and felt ourselves pushing some more. C'mon, we thought, we've got three months. Three months for everything to fall into place and move ito the house of our dreams.

We wondered if we had made the right move. Was it too early to have sold our house? Should we have found a place first and then went through the process of putting our house on the market? No. We had had a peace about the timing of the process, we were acting within our real estate agent's advice and within both sets of parents' wisdom. It had been time for us to move on. We needed something with a kitchen on the first floor, more bedrooms and more living space. This family of four was simply outgrowing our two-bedroom apartment.

Despite our efforts, time kept closing in on us. My husband decided to build us a second option in case we weren't successful in finding a place in time. After some thought and prayer, he called my Great Aunt Mary and Uncle Ron, who live in my great-grandma's house just six blocks from us. They live on the second floor of a double, where the bottom apartment is vacant since my other great aunt died more than a year ago. It would need some work, but we knew it was a good back-up plan in case we needed more time to find our house. They were THRILLED about the prospect of having us rent from them, not to mention the work Andy would do to clean it up to make it more comfortable.

Fewer and fewer houses came on the market and we wondered if we would need much more time than we had anticipated. Andy called my Aunt Mary and started making plans to move in after our new buyer closes on our apartment.

Long story short? We've moving. In three weeks.

The buyer will have his final walkthrough in our apartment this Sunday and we're scheduled to close on Monday. Andy will continue working on our "transition apartment" and we'll move by August 1st. Thankfully, we had been able to stay here more than a month after closing, though we'll be turning in the keys a month early. Not only is he cleaning it up - an apartment that's quite a bit larger than our current one - but he's plastering the closets, tearing up the carpet to refurbish the old hardwood and installing a stackable washer/dryer on our floor, a dishwasher and a garbage disposal. Just to make it comfortable for me. Sigh. He loves me. And did I mention the apartment has a HUGE master bedroom? And three bedrooms? And it's on the first floor? And it has air conditioning? Yeah. I think we're going to be veeeeery comfortable.

So in the next few weeks, I am organizing cupboards, sifting through bins and making our weekly menus out of the items in my freezer and cupboards. It's not how I imagined things to work out, but it's better than I had expected. Now we'll have plenty of time to look for a house without worrying about a lease or going through the process of buying/selling until we're ready. And, we'll be staying in a house that has seen five generations of my mom's extended family, with a very grateful aunt and uncle upstairs.

God. Is. Good.


Identical, But Not the Same

People assume because the boys are (most likely) identical twins, they're exactly the same. It's true, they really are very similar. "But can YOU tell them apart?" people ask. Of course. Usually. I'd say most of the time. At least 99% anyway. Their faces do look very different to me - Jack has a longer face, whereas Ben's face is more round - but I have the hardest time when they're both wet and naked in the bathtub. Or they have hats on and they're in the same exact outfit. But the moment I see them make a face, run or talk, I know right away who it is. "So you can identify them from their cries?" Um, no. I honestly can't. The boys share a room and the only way I can tell who's crying is by locating where the sound is coming from. Or if they start talking. Even then, I can identify which one it is by what they're saying, not the sound of their voice.
In the womb, Jack was Baby A and ultimately, born first. He was a mover, constantly flipping, turning and kicking. I swear, my stretch marks are bigger on my left side because of my Jonathan! (No wonder the cord was wrapped around his body when it was time for them to come out!) Ben, my Baby B, on the other hand, rarely kicked. I counted his heartbeats frequently to be sure he was alright since I didn't feel him move like I did his brother! When they were born, there was more than a pound difference between them, Ben always being bigger. Jack had significantly more hair. Ben liked to be held, whereas Jack seemed to enjoy his space. Jack was an aggressive eater, while Ben fell asleep during feedings. Especially since they each had their own sac, I was convinced they were fraternal.

During months three through nine, however, I started to change my tune. That's when they looked the most similar to me and there was never more than a few ounces difference between them.
At their two-year well visit, the boys weighed and measured exactly the same. More recently, Jack has been eating like crazy, whereas Ben prefers to get his calories from liquid. This was exactly the opposite a year ago. They are constantly flipping. But even though they tend to flip-flop all the time, I'm finding there are some things I can always count on.
If I hear "oh-weeeo, oh-weeeo, oh-weeeo" coming from the boys' room, it's probably Jack. If I hear, "mom!" it's Ben.

Jack is usually chasing, Ben is usually being chased.

Ben is the first one to get up from watching television after twenty minutes to find me folding clothes, whereas Jack could stay there for hours, completely mezmerized.

Jack loves to dribble his big bouncy ball, but Ben has more patience with a mitt, batt and glove.

Jack is a jumper. Ben has remarkable balance.

Ben is more likely to make silly noises and faces into the mirror. Jack is more likely to carry a bug between his fingers all through the house.

Ben doesn't like to leave the house without (at least trying to grab) a small toy to take with him. Jack is usually ready and waiting at the door.

Ben is more likely to collapse into my arms with a hug. Jack is more likely to play with my hair.

Ben can hide for minutes without moving a muscle in order to scare his prey (i.e. his daddy.) Jack gets too excited and reveals himself once his daddy is within earshot.

Jack is more likely to go to his daddy, nana or grandpa, whereas Ben almost always chooses his mommy.

Ben is almost always smiling and loves hamming it up for the camera. Jack, on the other hand, seems confused why he's being forced to show his teeth for a big black piece of technology. Ben poses. I can only get candid smiling shots of Jack.

Jack likes protein. Ben likes carbs.

When they hold their sippy cups, Jack holds it with his left hand and twirls his hair with his right. Ben holds it with his right hand and twirls his hair with his left.

Jack has a fat roll on his right leg. Ben has a fat roll on his left.

When they're doing puzzles, Ben systematically pulls out each piece and places them neatly beside himself before replacing each piece into its spot. Jack, on the other hand, dumps out the puzzle between his legs, then enjoys scavenging through the pile to find the correct piece before returning it to its correct position. Then they switch puzzles and repeat the same process.

Ben likes to be chased, but only Jack likes being caught.

To convince Ben to get his diaper changed, I need only ask him if he's poopy or wet. "Wet. Poop," he responds and comes running over to be cleaned and he sits marvelously. To convince Jack, however, I must first deny him of an activity until he gets changed. "You want to color with markers? Okay, first, you have to get your diaper changed." They both have to want to be cleaned and do not like to be told what to do. They must get that from their daddy ;)

Jack will work at one activity until it is perfected. Ben walks up when Jack is done and expects to get the same result the first time.

Jack finds the activity, Ben joins him.

At times, I feel like Ben thinks Jack is his baby. He is such a sweet caretaker.

When they hear the door downstairs opening (signaling Daddy's arrival from work,) they both run in circles. Ben, however, lands in my lap while Jack finishes at the door and is the first to greet him.

As helpful as it is to categorize your kids, label them as "the outgoing one" or "the shy one" or (worse yet,) "the good one" or "the evil one," I really try and shy away from that. I don't want to be quick to place my boys in a box that they may feel forced to abandon one day. But it is helpful to make observations about the things each of my boys like so I can better channel their strengths for the future. In the meantime, I really am enjoying getting to know my little men. They are both such a blessing and I love every little difference - and similarity - between them!