To all my friends, Merry Christmas!

For all you friends who arent going to get a Christmas card from me (which would be all of you). Here is my Christmas letter in abbreviated form.  I always have such good intentions at Christmas.

Every year I say “This year is different, I’m going to send cards/newsletter/pictures for Christmas. I am going to be that organized!!!” And every year I don’t actually seem to get them out. There have been years when I write the cards and even address them but just don’t put them in the mail. Then about February I find them on my desk and figure its really too late to send them after all. One year I even wrote the newsletter. Put pictures in and was so proud of myself, but never did anything else with it. I found it on the computer the other day……………..
Please don’t feel slighted that I don’t send cards to you. This is my problem not yours. You are great friends, I’m the disorganized crazy one!

So instead of messing with the cards,(which for some reason I still fill this need to do) I am blogging my Christmas. Lazy? Maybe…………

So 2010 was a crazy year for the Bartel’s. We lived 4 different places since November of 2009. This is the longest we have lived anywhere in the last year. Yipeee! I think that means we might be settled 🙂

Caleb starts college in January of 2011. Technically he is still a high school senior, but he will finish his senior year with all college classes at Johnson County Community College. He is enrolled at K-State next fall, though it doesn’t seem to have quite the draw as when it was 2 hours away from us. He is busy right now getting scholarship applications in. He has one awarded and under his belt (yea!!) We are hoping for many more:)

Emma is enjoying Manhattan High School for the most part. She is a sophmore this year and likes the friends and the fun stuff. She isn’t exactly fond of the Chemistry part, not that I blame her. She revisited her role from 7th grade as an Oompa Loompa in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory this fall as a part of the MHS musical. She was the best Oompa Loompa up there.

Ethan skipped football this fall which was devastating to Randy, but played in a tournament with friends from KC for a weekend, which I think he enjoyed as ,much as his dad did. He has already started baseball practice, though its only once a week and indoor! Seventh grade is going well, he still likes math the best and is taking Algebra I. Thank goodness he didn’t get my math skills!

Randy is enjoying his work at the Ebert Mayo Design Group. He missed coaching football this fall but made up for lost time coaching for the tournament. He is working hard on several projects around town. A couple of elementary schools and some other multi use buildings.

I’m working part time as an assistant for a local broker. Learning the Manhattan market and just enjoying no home improvement projects at the moment!

As a family we have joined New Hope Church and gotten involved in a small group of really great people. The kids like the youth program and are planning a mission trip for summer.

We are so blessed! We are not anywhere we would have expected to be this time last year, but God has been so good to us. We have jobs, health, family and friends and we are grateful for all. Especially you!

Thanksgiving and Motherhood.

Don’t judge my parenting based on the picture above please. It just made me laugh, classic Norman Rockwell!!
Last week at Bible Study we had a social time and in order to get that off the ground, the leader asked what our first job was and what our favorite job has been. My first job, if you don’t count babysitting, was at Cookie Factory at Oak Park Mall. Fun, though I can’t remember the names of anyone I worked with except my boss. It was the question about my favorite job that got me thinking. My favorite job has always been and will always be MOM.  I know there is question as to whether that really qualifies as a job. There is no question about the fact that its work 🙂 but can I count that as a job?

I know that I was so blessed to stay home with my kids as long as I did. It didn’t happen right away, and it came at a cost, but it is the best job ever. I’m a little nostalgic about it now simply because all my kids are teenagers now (yikes!). The days of ear infections with no end and nap time have been traded for teenage drama and drivers licenses (YIKES!)
At this time of Thanksgiving, I just wanted to say how thankful I am for my family. My kids are my heart. They give meaning to my days and fill most of them with joy 😉 My husband is my best friend and I am blessed everyday by him.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Teenager

So the last child turned 13 on the 13th of October. We celebrated with a surprise party in KC this last weekend. (I think everyone deserves a surprise party at one point or another in their life) It was fun and E was surprised. He didn’t figure it out right until we pulled the car into the parking stall at the park. HA!  Grandma, Caleb and Emma made it happen by showing up at the park early and setting things up. Considering how unorganized I am I’m surprised we pulled it off. Actually he had been to a friend’s birthday party the night before and that friend’s mom mentioned it without thinking. I’m sure my face would have been picture perfect when she said something about meeting at De Soto park for Ethan’s birthday the next afternoon. I fell all over myself stammering and trying to figure out what to say. She recovered nicely and Ethan didn’t even pay any attention. I however, was speechless. Too funny.
I can’t believe how fast this whole childhood thing went. Surely I’m not old enough to have one teenager let alone three, but I guess time rolls on!

Coming Home

Funny thing happened this weekend………………………………………….
We were back in KC and it was a full weekend with lots of running kids here and there. We had birthday breakfast for all the families October and November birthdays. We worked in my mother-in-laws yard and basement getting things cleaned up for winter. We went to a bonfire at a friends house and ate smores. We got haircuts and had a surprise birthday party for E with some of his friends. (I will post birthday stuff when I have time to download my pictures!) We walked through my sister-in-laws AMAZING remodel .
I was exhausted by the end of the weekend and just found myself wanting to go home. See the significance? It took me a minute 🙂 I thought of Manhattan as home for the first time.

Inside Pictures

 So after much drama, here are the pictures of the inside of the new house. Okay, so not much drama, just procrastination 🙂 There is much to be done to give it the look that I would like. But don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the house as it stands. Its mostly an issue of taste, what I would like in terms of colors and finishes etc.

The chalkboard on the right wall was originally at K-State. When they remodeled the classrooms the former owner got one that they were discarding. Apparently it is attached to the wall so that even Popeye can’t get it off. It weighs over 400 lbs. Good thing is that we are planning to remove that wall. It divides the kitchen area and the family room.
This is the family room. The front door is at the front right of this picture. I don’t like the way we have it arranged but I don’t know how else to do it. That darned wood burning stove is in the most awkward place possible. The wall behind the T.V. is the one I would like to remove.

Like my Rubbermaid blue counter tops? I bought counter top paint, I just haven’t gotten it done yet. I’m thinking about painting the cabinets red. Or red on top and black on the bottom.     
Study. Imagine the baby grand where the china cabinet is. It is still in storage.
Master Bedroom(ish) There are two bedrooms on the first floor, but no master bath associated with either one. So we gave Caleb the one next to the bathroom so he gets the noise 🙂 and we took the slightly smaller one. Eventually we will combine the two and make a master suite.
Look how clean it is. “Sigh” It never lasts long. But I promise it will be clean if you will to come see us!!

October Already?

That time went quick! Life seems to be speeding up lately, its already October and fall is finally here 🙂 There is a frost warning for the area tonight which will hopefully bring an end to the allergy season. My mums are blooming along the front porch; I actually wore a sweatshirt most of the day; and the kids are busy. Fall is in high gear!
On the home front, Em is participating in the musical at school. They are doing Willy Wonka and after watching practice for a few minutes Thursday night I know it is going to be really good. E isn’t playing football for the first fall since Kindergarten and while it was a rough go for Randy in the beginning we have really enjoyed the extra time with no practice and no weekend games. I am working what started to be a part time job in real estate and is now somewhere between 20 and 30 hours a week. Life just keeps rolling along.
On the house front I have tackled and mostly completed the downstairs bathroom/laundry. It was a simple fix up though, just painting and replacing the mirror and light fixtures. I hung some artwork, bought a cabinet and set out the fancy soaps(HA! like I own fancy soap) My heart just really isn’t in it right now. I’m so wishy washy about making decisions. It took three practice colors just to get the one I wanted for the bathroom. Normally I’m better at just finding what I want and diving in. You notice there are no interior pictures? That’s because I haven’t made myself just do it! I promise that will happen this week. The picture taking anyway. At this rate I might get them posted by Christmas:)
We have narrowed down our Internet options. At this point I am hoping to be up and running by Christmas!

Whiny Me

One of the best gages I have of time completely getting away from me is when I pull up this page while I am at the library, to check out all the blogs I follow to see if there is anything new and interesting happening in the lives of those blogs I follow only to nice it’s been almost a month since I posted!! And though I really hate to whine, I STILL DON’T HAVE INTERNET AT HOME!!!!!!
I know there are worse things to deal with, and to bring it up again is so whiny, but I can’t help myself. Don’t you feel sorry for me?
HA!

So really things are good. I don’t have any camp pictures to post because I’m too busy working on the team and family pictures I’ve been paid to work on and I am woefully behind on those.

I promise good updates and fun pictures this week. Em and Ethan go back to school. Caleb hits Chemistry HARD :/ and I have a list of home improvements a mile long. Maybe when we get the Internet thing figured out I will post EVERYDAY like some of my super organized friends.

Time is Flyin’!!!

Sadly I don’t have time to upload one of my own pictures of home. This IS where we live, it’s just greener these days 🙂
One of the reasons I don’t have pictures of my own to upload is that we have yet to figure out how to get Internet at home. Everything I do online has to be done at the public library. Taking the time at home to load everything to a thumb drive then down load onto the computer at the library is more organization than this little brain can handle!
This is just one of the fun “get to know your new home” quirks we are experiencing. Another is that our cell phones don’t work in the house. I set my phone by the front door and it if rings I run to the front porch to answer. If I’m lucky, by the time the other person responds I am in the front yard where the signal is strong enough for a conversation! It’s all fine now, even though it’s a bit hot. When winter comes I might need a new plan. Needless to say…..we now have a land line again!
We have things mostly put away. No decorating has occurred, but I’m thinking I have some time for that.
We had our first friends from out of town in to see our home and hang out with us for the day. It was so nice to see them! The fact that they are Jayhawks at heart should really shame some of our Wildcat friends into getting here! They even SAID they enjoyed touring Manhattan!!
Anyway, time is short, I just wanted to say “HEY!” and let you know we are still here!

New House

I just have to say its nice to slow down. By slow down I mean not be scrambling to pack or unpack something which seems to have been the story of my life for the past year! While things aren’t perfect at the new Bartel homestead, the beauty of it all is that they don’t have to be! I did get most things put away and the house set up as we would like. I don’t have pictures on the wall or things painted. To be completely honest I really don’t even care at this moment 🙂 I’ve even read for FUN this week!

Of course nothing really ever completely slows down. The kids are getting ready to enroll in schools and I do have a list of things I need to do. I can’t avoid everything……………….

I’m putting up some pictures here of the new place just for fun. Of course before we even officially bought the house Randy had the master plan finished. Additions, barn, even swimming pool (think 20 year plans). He is awesome!
This is the backyard. The small triangle raised bed is strawberries. We got here too late to eat them this year. Next year:)
This is the back of the house. The garage is semi-detached. There is a breezeway between it and the house that the dogs have commandeered for the time being. I’m not sure where they will end up permanently. But this works for now. There is a game room over the garage. It has a window air conditioner that has done its very best to keep up with the heat of this last week or so.
This is where my super fantastic garden is going to go. I have a master plan for that too so you can see how much alike my husband and I happen to be:) I’m going to try to get it fenced this fall  and raised beds put in so it will be ready to go next spring.
This is one of my favorite spots. It is nice and quiet out here most mornings, and not too hot if you go out early enough. When the garden goes in it will be to the top right of this picture. Then my view will be even better!
God has been so good to us. I feel blessed everyday to see things going back to some sense of “normal” whatever that is! I know I’ve learned a lot this year. I’m pretty sure the whole family has. I remember late last year comparing the stress of what we have been going through to a dark tunnel. With only enough light to see your own feet on the path and only enough strength to think about taking one step at a time. It does make me think about Psalms 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” God has been there every step of this walk. I know it has given new meaning to “Feet to my Faith” . There are lessons yet to be learned from this, it’s just going to take some more processing. I’m sure there will be many conversations between us about them yet!