7 in Seven

Ryan and I have been married seven years this past June. It’s both been slow and fast depending on the season, the number of kids, and whether we’re in the middle of a fight or not. In that time we’ve lived in seven different homes. Just keeping it spicy, I guess. That or I’d run out of furniture arrangements and so needed a new space. I’ll never tell.

So let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

1. The Tree House
This was our first place after getting married. You can’t tell, but the trees literally shoot up right behind the deck in the back. You had to pay $50 more per month to get the treehouse view. Around the property, there were secluded hot tubs amongst trees. We hosted a Mystery Murder party here by cramming too many people into a small one bedroom apartment, but we made it work. Some friends and we scrambled over the high privacy fence to go swimming in the clubhouse pool at 2am after a night of dancing. Ryan’s friend brought over pure (and illegal) Absinthe from his time studying in the Czech Republic and we tried it just to see if Moulin Rouge was accurate and we’d hallucinate that fairies were flying around.

moulin rougeIt didn’t affect any of us.

We had good times in the tree house. But winter rolled around and we decided to start looking for a home to buy. Our lease was 9 months and it was nearing the end. My sister lived in a particular area that we knew to be of good value so we watched and then found one.

2. Our 1940s home.PVThere it is. The first one on the left. But I wanted to capture the oak trees on the street as well because this area is so pretty because of them.

I was still shy and nervous around the neighbors. I’d wave, but anything more made act like an 8th grader. Looking back, I so wish I’d come out of my shell more. One guy on the street had about ten flags on his flagpole indicating all of his heritage. His house was the nicest and he had a huge birthday party for his mom every year, complete with some local band playing in his backyard. That was our first invite and we met some more neighbors our age. They were witty and preppy and down home goofballs. We had a block party and the mayor showed up.

This was our first time owning and we just weren’t into it. We didn’t have the urge to upgrade rooms or the unfinished basement. I wasn’t into landscaping so we kept everything as it was. We did replace the windows right before moving: Our sewer line broke while guest stayed the night.

I also started my blog in this house. Click here, here, here, and here for posts from my time there.

Then one day Ryan interviewed for a position in Arkansas…and away we flew! Luckily we sold the house two months later, just as the market was crashing. I think buying in that area definitely helped.

After the sewer line incident, we were definitely not interested in buying for a while. So we found a little apartment in a town not far from his new job.

3. The golf course apartment
SpringdaleI drove down earlier in the day and Ryan was going to drive down after he left his job for the last time. I’d never been to this part of Arkansas before my first night in the apartment. I’ll be honest, I was crestfallen. Where were my oak trees? Where was the greenery?  I’d had my hopes up after going to Ryan’s family reunion in North Central Arkansas. He, his brother, and I drove through the most green I’d ever seen in one drive. Plus, we visited their family’s homestead property that I’m still lusting after. No running water with a toddler and newborn, YES – IT’S PERFECT!!!

Dang, give me an old farmhouse and I’ll throw out every common sense left in my body. Click >here< to read about that trip.

Anyway, so I drove into this town thinking I’d be surrounded by farmland and old white homes. I knew the place we were going to rent had running water, but I thought for sure it was just an upgrade done in the 50s by the third generation of kids that lived there. You know, there.. in that farmhouse.

No, there were about 20 billion stoplights on a short stretch of street and I’d wondered if I’d like this area at all. I cried when I entered the apartment. But then Ryan arrived and we started exploring. We became closer too. It was just the two of us, making our way.

After another short lease, we decided to move even closer to Ryan’s work. Plus, I’d gotten a job in that town as well. So we did, and arrived at

Number 4: The Dorm Room at the lazy -beep!- and his overworked wife’s apartment complex.

Spring Valley
Ugh. The owner/property manager guy annoyed me so much. Every time I went into the office, the wife was running around and he was sitting on the chair eating chocolate. One time I was running in the gym that was right next to the office. The TV was on and he came in to ask if it could be turned down. I said (like the polite person that I am), “Oh, I’m running right now, could you walk over there and turn it down? Thanks.” I felt like I was giving an invisible high-five to his wife right then. He actually did something. Amazing!

The good thing that came out of this apartment was finding out how small of a place Ryan and I could live in. We called it the Dorm Room because it was the smallest floor plan and we climbed up a loft bed every night to sleep. This was a deliberate choice as we wanted to pay off Ryan’s MBA loan as quickly as possible. It became a challenge and I loved making choices that were not popular. At least not popular with the youngin’s on HGTV’s House Hunters. I swear, every time someone my age appeared on the show they insisted on a McMansion. I was happy in my cozy dorm room.

I had my appendix removed here. Ryan’s brother moved down and began living with us.

Our lease was coming to an end and so we went searching for something else. We found a place in town and after calling the landlord, she mentioned that she had another property on the edge of her turkey farm. We saw it, we debated, we stared at each other with wide, scared eyes, and decided to do it. Heck, rent was only $233 a month. Can’t beat that. But….

5. Yikes, The Shack

mobile home
Well, we got our open land and we also got judgments. I recently shared a review on my second blog: The Mobile-Homemaker. You can read it here. It was a chronicle of my homemaking attempts. It was also my way of embracing this piece of tin and hoping others would see it as a quirky part of my life.

We started and neglected a garden here. Ruthie was born here (sorry girl, try to laugh about it.) I made dandelion wine here, from dandelions right outside the front door. If you’d like to know, it burns like fire.

After Ruthie was born I started to feel isolated. The shy girl in her second property was very different from the girl now. This girl wanted to talk and to meet and be friendly. Ruthie brought me out of my shell.

So after almost two years of living at the shack, we began searching for a place in town. And settled on…

Number 6: The Townhome
Townhome 1
What the property lacks in character, it makes up for in location. This is right across the street from the city park, the city library, city trails, and a few blocks from the cute small downtown.

It was exactly what I needed. Annie was born here (an upgrade from The Shack… again, sorry Ruth.) And people!! Two families my age with kids Ruthie’s age lived in this block. Two more families moved into another block of townhomes and we often congregated in the backyard. Talk, talk, talk, talk. Yes! Finally! I loved it.

What I didn’t love?

Living right by the driveway of the house behind us.

You can’t really see the drive b/c it’s dirt and grass…. and that dirt and grass blends right into our small backyard area. Imagine a 9 month pregnant lady freaking out because her toddler keeps playing in that driveway. My mind immediately goes to the worst case scenario and I knew I wouldn’t be able to move fast enough if a car came through. Thankfully there were extra hands, but I shouldn’t rely on other people to watch my kid all the time.

Man, if only we had fenced in yard. If only… so we bought one.

And that’s our number 7. We’ve moved into our new home that I’m excited to share. It ticks many of the boxes we wanted in a property and that gave us the confidence to jump back into homeownership again. I was worried about leaving built-in playdates at the townhome, but the neighbors have already come over (twice) with sweet goodies as well as a reminder that they are going to have a lunch to introduce us to the rest of the neighborhood. The daughter next door has already been offered up as a babysitter and deer roam our backyard every night. We are happy. Ryan likes the possibilities, Ruthie likes the space to run around, and me? You got it: the fenced in yard.

After I come up for air amongst all these boxes, I’ll post some photos.

We need to have a garage sale. Immediately. Before I suffocate.

How Lovely.

This is how our evening went.

Ryan came home around 5:30 and we hurriedly ate dinner. Annie likes to screetch sing the moment the fork touches my lips, so one of us sits with Ruthie and eats while the other holds Annie and then we switch. Ruthie doesn’t seem to care the change in facial scenery, unless the chair remains empty for more than 3 seconds and then she screams “Sit Down!!” over and over.  We immediately run over to cut her off from then saying “Off with your heads!” She can be scary about her dinner dates.

Once we cleaned up, I nursed Annie and then changed her diaper. And then changed her diaper. And then changed her diaper. Dang girl, eat some cheese or something. By this time Ruthie was standing by the door repeating “Walk, Walk” increasingly getting louder and louder. I got flustered, prayed this was the last diaper change for a while and threw Annie into the Ergo. Off we went.

We love our walks. Annie immediately falls asleep and Ryan and I can actually talk with minimal interruption. There was a good breeze going tonight and everyone seemed in a really good mood. Kids at the park smiled at us. Parents smiled at us. Dogs smiled at us. The weirdo on the corner smiled at us.


He was being a little too friendly there. Something’s up.

And because I literally cannot not look at myself in any sort of reflection, be it a hall mirror, a shop front, it could be a flippin’ puddle, I don’t care. I’ll bend over that muddy water to catch a glimpse of myself. It’s a sickness.

So as we passed a few stores, I of course turned slightly to look out the corner of my eye, and caught a glimpse of this:

What the.diaper1

A dirty, thankfully not poopy, diaper was swaying in the wind behind me.

No wonder everyone was smiling. No one is that happy to perfect strangers.

This reminds me of something that happened to me in college. I actually went to bed on time one night and felt great that next morning. So instead of throwing on my normal sweats, I put on a cute button up shirt and skirt. I lived only a couple blocks from campus and so walked everyday to class. As I was climbing a hill, other students were walking down it, past me, with gigantic grins on their face. Normally I would avert my eyes, but today I felt good so I met each one’s gaze with fierce intensity. I must look haaaaaaawt, I thought. I dare you to ask me out! And then girls started to openly smile at me. And it confirmed my suspicions.. I looked so cute that girls also want to ask me out. When you’ve got it, you’ve got it people, I can’t explain it.

So with my head held high, I walked on. And then something made me look down. It was a shadow. Of a bow.

Of the bow on my bra.

There were only a few large buttons on this shirt of mine and the heaviness of my backpack coupled with walking uphill caused the first two to unbutton themselves. It was basically open to right above my belly button.

Let’s all give a moment of thanks that I actually wore a bra that day.


This always happens when I think I’m the most popular. Dangit.

So in other news:

  • We went on a a long walk the other day, just the girls and me, and in that one walk we saw a deer, a turtle cross the sidewalk, a red bird sit on a branch within arm’s reach, and a few squirrels. Ruthie was thrilled and still talks about them all.
  • Speaking of Ruthie. She could care less if I was around. It’s all about Ryan. Even when it’s just the two of us and I go to hug her, she runs screaming the other way. I’ve been known to yell mutter, “D*mned if I’m gonna let a 2 year old HURT MY FEELINGS” and then immediately blink back tears. Ryan has talked with her about how she loves me and I love her and how she needs to be nice to mommy. So today I hit rock bottom and let her do what she wanted (within reason). You want to get out all of Annie’s diapers and throw them around? Sure!! Isn’t Mommy fun?! You want to have a second cookie? Sure!! Isn’t Mommy fun?! You want to play in the 350 degree oven? Sur- Wait. No, but I’ll let you throw whatever is in the oven all over the kitchen floor!! Isn’t Mommy fun?! It was pathetic. She still went running from me later that night.
  • One day Ruthie played with a fly for 5 straight minutes. I was jealous of the fly.
  • I’m teaching her how to do the robot. She’s got the straight hands down, now we just need to work on bending the torso over and around.
  • Annie poops and nurses. She was 10 lbs 12 oz last week. She is in the 97th percentile in head size. I could’ve told you that during her birth.

Some fun things are happening this week that we’re really excited about. More on that later. In the meantime, I’ve got a daughter to suck up to.


I’m starting this post at 8:40 am and both girls are asleep.

I think.

I might’ve heard Ruthie a few minutes ago but I’m gonna pretend it was my imagination just to buy myself some more time. Don’t judge. I can write a lot of words in five minutes. But ask me to remember where I put my wallet, and that may take all day.

Some random things:

  • Annie just farted.
  • A spider crawled out of Ryan’s beard and he flung it onto the wall and killed it. No joke. It’s time to shave.
  • Annie was on the verge of sleep the other day and literally laughed out loud. It was awesome.
  • We’re about to go on a walk because it’s gorgeous outside. 8:43 and 63 degrees. Yes, please.
  • Ryan makes me smoothies every morning.

…and I hear Ruthie. I’ll be back.

Okay, we’ve gone, we’re back, we’ve eaten lunch, and are about to go down for a nap.

Remember that broom from our garage sale adventures? Ruthie loved it, as I thought she would since she always wants to help sweep the floor when I do it. She spent a good long time sweeping in my parent’s house where we were all chit-chatting.

And then there was silence.

Where’s Ruthie?! Oh my gosh, ANNIE!!!

She’d been left to sleep on a chair in the living room…. and this is a reenactment of what Ryan found minus his hand.
DSC_7576As my mom said, Ruthie was trying to sweep Annie away.

Ryan and Ruthie were reading her Pride and Prejudice book one night on the couch. I love this book. The fact that they included her muddy skirt had me sold from the get go. This is the first book Ruth’s memorized, which is as it should be.
DSC_7698Then they got to the part where Jane gets sick at Bingley’s house…
DSC_7699Ruth said, “Sick. Mommy.”

“Mommy”, Ryan asked?

“Mommy. Couch. Sick.”

I then spent the next twenty minutes adamantly denying that I lay on the couch all day. And besides, you can’t trust Ruthie’s judgement anyway, because when I took down my favorite glittery picture of the holy family…

DSC_7700She looked at it and said, “Mommy and Daddy!”

Just because I may have cried out his name when pushing Annie out, doesn’t mean I’m his mother, Ruthie.

So see? You can’t take her word for it, Ryan.

A few minutes later, after staring at the picture some more, she whispered, “Jesus.” That unnerved me for a moment. How did she know that was of Jesus, when I’ve never even showed her it before? So I asked if she talks to Jesus, which one is Jesus, etc., and she said, “Go up! Book.” and started to walk up the stairs. I followed her to her room’s bookshelf and she grabbed the easter book that grandma and grandpa gave her this year.

Then brought it back down to read in front of the picture.

DSC_7689I love hearing her talk and read about Jesus.

Some other things of note:

Ruthie would like to be in a play pen.
DSC_7684The first day alone with them I let her play in there. Now it’s off limits after she tried to rock climb into it.

But the most important tidbit is the growing love between these girls.
The hard work is definitely worth it.

The Help

Today was my third official day on my own with the girls. And Annie is already a month old. You do the math. That means I’ve had a sidekick for a very long time in newborn years. My mom stayed the first week, next Ryan’s mom stayed on for two weeks, and finally my new family of four made the trek to Kansas City for a long weekend.

What a lucky gal I am. Seriously, because I know it has been hard at various times for everyone. Case in point:

Carolyn + no sleep + crying baby + debates = I will destroy you.

And that’s just over whether or not the world is flat. Because clearly it is.

So let’s focus on some other things that happened… Like when Jama helped Ruthie make a father’s day present for Ryan because I let that sorta slip by….

The bar had already been set on Mother’s Day when I had to make breakfast for everyone, so I didn’t feel horribly bad.DSC_7557 DSC_7560
Or when everyone was talking on the phone to their girlfriends, except for me.

Because I don’t talk on the phone.


Or having meals delivered to us by friendly friends. This photo was taken during the first meal I actually made for everyone. Breakfast, of course. DSC_7567 Or catching sight of the future state of my living room in the mirror. Holy toys everywhere. DSC_7570 Oh yeah, and also Ruthie on her tippy toes to see the butterfly had Jama had made.

Julie was a big help. She would take care of Ruthie in the morning while I either slept or lounged on the couch, sometimes forgoing using the bathroom. She also began the never-ending the task of asking Ruth to say “No Thank You” when she’d yell NO!!!! if we asked to help her in anyway. This independence is taking over our lives. Seriously, can’t I read a book to you anymore, Ruth? You don’t even know the words but insist on babbling through book after book.

After Jama went back home, we left for Kansas City the following day. Ryan had a conference in St. Louis and so he dropped us girls off first. We left right before Ruth’s afternoon nap, envisioning a quiet car with my feet propped up, a martini in my hand, and Stephen King on Books-on-Tape.

Stephen King was about the closest we got to that dream, because these girls pulled a Jack Nicholson on me within the first 15 minutes. And I spent the rest of the time alternating between zoning out and trying to entertain. I’m driving next time, because the passenger always gets the bum deal.

We arrived in one piece and spent the evening talking in the living room. Ryan didn’t have to leave until after lunch the next day, so going to garage sales was discussed as an option in the morning. My mom and I are garage sale fanatics. It’s a sickness, but I don’t care.

Because we did end up strolling around the neighborhoods and scored.

This solid oak table and chairs.. Yep, only twenty bucks.

DSC_7575 And look behind Ruthie there… see that box? We thought for sure it was a plastic dollhouse, but after opening it up realized it was wood (which is what I was looking for.)

DSC_7589 Price, you ask?


My dad put it together to make sure everything was there. They were, including the official “Grandpa Constructing Things” face. Anyway, that baby will either be a Birthday or Christmas present.

DSC_7595 Notice that broom. It has it’s own story after arriving home.

We also got some cousin time in as well. My cousin’s little girl Kaylee is about 8 months older than Ruth, so I thought for sure they’d be best pals instantly. I spent the entire morning before she arrived prepping Ruthie for what was about to happen: who was coming over, what they would say, and what she should say.

Ruthie, guess who’s coming over?! Kaylee and Katie and Aunt Mary and Uncle Donald are coming over. They’re going to ring the doorbell and walk in and then say, Hi Ruthie!! And then you’ll say, Hi! back to them. Okay?

Rinse and repeat.

She understood her duties in the hostess world and was ready… repeating Kaylee’s name over and over and saying Hi a billion times.

The door bell rang.

The group walked in.

And there went Ruthie, screaming in the opposite direction.

By the end of the day they had warmed up to each other and were running up and down the halls.

Here are most of the girls:

DSC_7625 Annie’s other Aunt and Uncle came by for a quick visit but of course I didn’t have my camera handy. It was pretty much the same scenario. Prepping for no apparent reason. Ruthie is just a nervous nelly.

Aunt Amy and her braces got in on the fun as well.


We met up for a second time with the aunts, uncles, and cousins for Taco Tuesday. On the way there, Annie started screaming bloody murder. So my mom pulled over and she’d had an explosion that went up her back.

Mexican food still sounded good.

Dangit, Katie, and your natural beauty.

Some other events:

Ruth ran around naked and then peed on the kitchen floor.


DSC_7630 We had a pool party. Annie stayed inside and I counted down the minutes until the window would be knocked on by my dad indicating I needed to get my screaming child. DSC_7638 DSC_7640 DSC_7643 I walked into either a really cute prairie girl, or one of the twins standing at the end of the hall in The Shining. DSC_7666

Smile Ruthie, for goodness sakes.
We also went to story time at the library. Ruthie was so good at singing songs and learning new hand movements.DSC_7667 There was even a guest appearance from Jay Leno’s love child. That gray haired chic and her chin need to get a room.DSC_7670 Grandma helped with the craft…DSC_7675

We also watched my parents’ blue spruce get chopped down.
DSC_7658And it can’t be a visit unless some version of Les Miserables is watched, listened to, or sung. DSC_7682Mom and Dad also helped out a lot too. I pretty much slept in as late as I could in the morning as well as during Ruthie’s naps. So by the time I got home, I was ready to take this bull by the horn.

Speaking of getting home. We stopped off to eat at a restaurant. I asked Ruth what she’d like to eat and she yelled, Broccoli! So I ordered a side of broccoli… and you betcha, she ate it.

Who is this girl, for real. It’s so fun finding out.