Monday, March 16, 2015

Welcome Almost Spring!!!

I seem to be making this a habit to write once a year, to the day...

In April 2014, Luke's sisters and cousin came over for a holiday and visit with us. (It was our cousin's first time visiting the USA.)  It was the first time in 4 years we had seen two of them, including their first time meeting our last two children. It was really wonderful to see them and for them to get to know the children.
We all had heaps of fun playing games, eating great food, traveling around the surrounding areas, including the Amish community in Windsor, MO (my first time down there, too).

Following their visit, we got busy starting the trucking business. Luke fixed up the tractor-trailor we bought in March. I took care of the administrative stuff and we launched the business in July. We ended up contracting to a company, so we didn't need our own federal trucking authority. Which means those numbers on the cab don't apply.


 Hosanna turned 2 in May...Where is the time going??


Then Ephraim turned 4 in June. We went to the rodeo! That was really exciting! He LOVED it!




We bought a 60" zero turn lawn mower, which revolutionized the mowing. It's pretty sweet! Luke had delegated the job to me, but when we bought this mower he hardly let me do it.








July 7, we celebrated our 7th anniversary. We went out to eat Luke's favorite cuisine- Thai. We literally hadn't had Thai food since we lived in Australia, 4 years before!


In July, we joined the world of smartphone users, and both purchased the Iphone 5s. We LOVE our phones!!! I don't know how I survived without a smartphone before. I love that it's a built in camera, GPS, and computer all in one.



The children in their church clothes looking so cute!

Gideon started Kindergarten at the Kingsville Public School -it has a grand total of around 270 students K-12. He's enjoying it! 

We finally got a cat. She was 4 months old at the time we got her. Her name's Abigail and she's a sweetie. 

 The dog, Copper, and Abigail got along after awhile.



Visiting Burr Oak Woods, one of our favorite places. Gideon looks really impressed, LOL!


In December, we celebrated Gideon's 6th birthday.



It was so cold this winter...the creek froze and made for some good skating.



Sadly, our dog, Copper got hit by a vehicle in January 2015. He was a good dog, we will miss him!

But on the positive side, my sister had her first girl on January 1! I am so excited to have another niece!!! Meredith Rose is such a little cutie!

Meredith Rose 1 day old.
About 2 months old.

I decided I wanted to get some more educational toys, and I remembered I loved this Little Tyke vintage piano when I was a kid. My siblings and I, all used to play on this thing when we were younger. So I searched on Ebay and found this one with the music book. I had to get one with the music book, otherwise it's just not as much fun.

I hear Gideon sometimes playing some of the songs out of the music book. It's music to my ears (pun intended) to hear him taking an interest on his own and playing an "instrument". They do have a bunch of assorted whistles, a xylophone and a harmonica, but since they have the music book with the notes color coordinated they can actually play a tune easier.


We got another dog. He's a 3 year old English Mastiff named, Cash. He's a big boy with a gentle heart- a big, lovable bear.




Luke used the old hood from the semi truck as a sled (he hit a deer and had to replace it) . It was a lot of fun for the children.

I'm so glad it's warming up!! I'm not a fan of the ice, snow, and cold. Especially because Luke has to drive in it daily, as do I, when I drive Gideon to and from school everyday. It was a bit nerve wracking at times when there was stuff on the roads. We've both been blessed, as we've not been in any wrecks. We've had some near misses, though.

 We widened the driveway entrance to accommodate Luke getting in and out with a trailer on the semi. It was just too hard before. His wheels went off the edge of the road every time he reversed in or out. That wasn't going to work when the winter weather came. We're just now getting around to putting up the new gate. We've got the fence posts in, and the new gate is laying on the ground waiting for Luke to install it (when he has time in between work and doing all the million and one things around the house and property that he's been doing).

Luke's been clearing brush and trees around the property with a skid-steer (bobcat). He's trying to make it so we can go all the way around the perimeter on the ATV or on foot. Up one side is a bunch of small ravines from creeks and runoff. Over the weekend he smoothed one of those ravines down and made it passable. It looks really good!


Anyway, we're just chugging along with life on our little portion of God's earth. That's all for now!





Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Book Review: The Noticer by Andy Andrews




Meet Jones. Not Mr. Jones, just...Jones. This is a narrative, seen through the eyes of others, about his time spent in Orange Beach, Alabama. 
 "The Noticer" is a book about perspective. As we follow along with Jones, we see him give words of wisdom and encouragement to the people he crosses paths with. 

"...I am a noticer...I notice things that other people overlook. And you know, most of them are in plain sight. I notice things about situations and people that produce perspective. That's what most folks lack -perspective- a broader view. So I give them that broader view...and it allows them to regroup, take a breath, and begin their lives again."

"...My contention is that you are right where you are supposed to be. This may look like barren sand to you, but nothing could be further from the truth."

I really enjoyed reading this book. It's fairly short, but to the point. It touches on several different topics that most people come across in life. It challenged me and gave me something to think about. It inspired me to write down five things I'm grateful for every morning when I get up.

You can borrow this book from your local library, buy it from a bookstore, on Amazon.com, or other sources on the internet. 


 


 


Friday, March 7, 2014

One year anniversary of my last blog post...

Happy one year anniversary to me of my last blog post!!! Wow, what an accomplishment.

So to recap my life:
We bought a house with 12 acres and moved in on May 18, 2013, while Luke's parents were visiting from Australia. We didn't plan it that way, it just happened.



We had an awesome time with Grandma and Poppy; the kids really enjoyed it. We ate great food, talked and they were a big help watching kids and helping us move. Luke of course was so happy to see his parents again after 3 years.


We celebrated Hosanna's first birthday while they were in town. We had a big party with family and friends. (Like a week after we moved in!). It was fun! We mostly just talked, while the kids played.




Luke became a citizen of the United States on June 20. Hurray! Huzzah! Confetti!
(Word to the wise: even though it seems like a good idea to have your young children come to the official ceremony because it's their daddy and it will mean so much to have the whole family together...don't bring 'em! We had to wait 2+ hours in a boring meeting room before being stuffed (and I mean stuffed into a courtroom, then they proceeded to shush the antsy babies and told the parents to take them out as it was an official proceeding and not to be interrupted. I was so stressed out by the end of the ceremony trying to keep my three quiet -when they were over being there to begin with- that I pretty much cried (angry tears, mind you) -oh, and I'm sure Hosanna falling on her head off the seat and screaming at the end while everybody stared had nothing to do with that. I wanted to be in there to see Luke, so I was determined to stick it out. But I should have done myself a favor and got a baby sitter. So yeah, that's my first tip for the day.


Ephraim had his 3rd birthday on June 27. We just did an 'our-little-family' only party.



Luke and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary on July 7. Don't ask me what we did, I can't remember...


We had a very dry, very hot, very buggy, very itchy (from poison ivy and mosquitoes) summer. Did I mention I LOVE how much space we have not only in our house, but outside. The kids were able to just run. all. over. the place!
I had a great time mowing all the time on our little ride on mower that kept getting flat tires because of all the thorns on our property.
We fenced our property and Luke put up a gate. It's extra wide so we can get BIG stuff into our driveway.



I bought an elliptical trainer from a garage sale up the road for $50! It revolutionized my weight loss program; that and www.myfitnesspal.com a free calorie counter diary online. I've lost 30lbs since I've been using My Fitness Pal.

I enrolled Gideon in Classical Conversations, a home school community using the 'classical' model of education. We go once a week and love it!

I ran my fourth 5K race on September 28, which was benefiting 'The Women's Clinic of Kansas City' (a pro life clinic serving women in our area- you ought to check them out!) I did 5 minutes better than my last race!

One of Luke's sisters came for a two week visit in October. We hadn't seen her in 3 years, either. The kids had so much fun! (the adults did, too, but kids have a way of showing their excitement more demonstratively).


Luke celebrated his 36th birthday on November 4. Again, I don't remember what we did...


Gideon celebrated his 5th birthday on December 12. We had a party at the Burger King play place with family and friends.

Gideon with his cousin Emma.

I celebrated my 25th birthday on January 13. I got a brand new refrigerator (kinda had to, the other one quit working. I used a cooler on our back porch for two weeks, but the food kept freezing so I would bring it inside on really cold days/nights).

We had to get a new dryer as the old one sprung a gas leak and was too old to bother repairing. So we went to the Sears Wholesale Outlet and bought a refurbed one...and so began the dryer saga *cue ominous music*. You might want to take a potty break before continuing...

Turns out gas appliances come equipped for natural gas (the kind most people use in the city), so if you're using propane (LP) you must buy an LP conversion kit (and install it ;-) for each gas appliance before you operate it...nobody said anything to US about that...and of course we installed the dryer ourselves...The only mention of said conversion kit was at the BACK of the installation manual (between the English and Spanish translations) in the "Accessories" section (along with the washer/dryer stacking rack, drying racks for inside, underneath drawers, etc. -not, of course, in the "What-you-need-to-install-this-machine" section at the front. So after about 4 weeks of it shutting down immediately with the electronic screen reading "check exhaust" code, the customer support not knowing what the problem was besides the obvious code meaning, us cleaning out and messing with the dryer venting all different ways, then waiting two weeks for the technician to get here, the technician ordering parts he "thought" might be the problem...We waited another two weeks while the said parts were delivered and a different technician installed them...that's when we found out the problem...

After the technician installed the parts I brainstormed aloud to him to make sure this was actually going to solve the problem; after which he asked if we installed an LP conversion kit in it.
To which I replied "What's that??" ...

Then I discovered on the phone with Customer Service the conversion kit can only be purchased from Sears for $35 and delivered to your home for an exorbitant amount for shipping if I wanted it overnight -it was either that or a week later! But wait, before I committed to that, I discovered -from the actual Sears Parts agent at the local Sears parts distribution center- that the conversion kit for our particular machine is a generic part that can be purchased from any appliance parts store (thank you Mr. Parts Guy!) So I called two out of the three stores he mentioned, and was in luck with the second one- they actually had the part in stock (in Lenexa, KS -of course the Lee's Summit, MO location which is closer to me by about 25 minutes didn't have it in stock. So I, being in a state of absolute desperation by this time, didn't want to wait to have them send it to the closer store (nor did I even ask if they would. My husband later informed me they probably would do like 1-3 shipments a day between them). I drove 45 minutes one way to get the part, and the next day my wonderful husband installed the LP conversion kit and it worked!!!! 

*Did I mention that for a while I had wire strung in the basement to dry clothes, but then we started building in the whole basement and I had to take them down. You find out real quick how often you really need to wash clothes

...But wait, it gets better...

While the second technician was over, I had him have a look at why the machine had a rattling sound...he tightened some things and oiled some things. All good, right? Wrong. When I finally tested the machine out after the conversion kit was installed, after about 6 minutes into the cycle I couldn't believe how horrible it sounded! Instead of an annoying slight rattle it was now a horrific grinding noise that went on so loud you could hardly hear yourself talking. So I got on the phone with customer service again to make an appointment...thank God the machine is under a one year manufacturer warranty...and two weeks later I was scheduled for another appointment...the day before the appointment arrived we got a blizzard, aaaaaand I was rescheduled for two weeks later.

*Meanwhile Luke and I went on our first cruise to Grand Turk Island, which was a wonderful relaxing trip (I certainly needed it after all the dryer drama!).


So the same technician came back and had a look. He then ordered a new fan assembly kit, which took 1.5 weeks to arrive at my house, and the next day he came back and installed it...and VOILA! Problem solved, end of story.

Moral of this story (and tip #2 of the day), my friends, is make sure you ask while at the store what all you need to install something before you leave (they really should have mentioned it to us, but that's another story...of course probably everyone else including you knows about the gas conversion kit, we're just rookies). I hope this story at least helps someone else avoid what we went through.

In case you're wondering what the deal with the fan was? Well, that was a manufacturer defect on all machines of our model that the poor technician didn't catch the first time because the part was a different color than he was used to (honestly, I don't blame the technician, he was so nice and did an excellent job, and hey, we all make mistakes!) Basically, the fan housing was improperly measured and the fan blades were being shredded and would have eventually jammed up and stopped the machine. Just replacing the whole thing fixed it.

I LOVE my dryer! Now it's as quiet as a mouse really quiet dryer. My (older) washing machine is louder than it.

Currently, we are still working on the basement, watching the tomato plants growing inside, trying to start up an owner/operator truck business, and pining for the warmer weather.







Thursday, March 7, 2013

What have the Mellings been up to??? Stay tuned and read ALL about it...

1. We're pre-approved for a home loan!!! We're trying to decide on which one of two or three properties to make an offer on. We are SO looking forward to becoming home owners for the first time.
 
2. We survived the "blizzard" that hit the Midwest last week. Luke managed to make it home from work just as it started to snow the first day it dumped about 12 (?) inches. His work took the next day off which meant a long weekend (YAY!). So by the time Luke went back to work the roads were cleared, but it snowed ALL Monday night (if my memory serves me right, which isn't saying much...Mom-nesia stinks!) another 8 inches or so. 
Luke drives a route to Des Moines, Iowa and back every night in a semi truck making deliveries (office furniture and stuff like that). 

3. Hosanna started crawling around March 6. She's sneaky, though! I think she did crawl earlier but I just didn't see it because she takes these tiny crawl "steps". But on March 6 she actually went a fair distance for a little 9 3/4 month old baby. 

4. I mailed the application and documents for Luke's naturalization (citizenship) today!!!! (Tomorrow, March 8, we'll have been in the USA three years...my how that time has flown!) We have to wait for them to process it, then he has to get his fingerprints taken and wait on the background check. When all that is approved someone will contact us with an interview time and Luke will go and be tested on his knowledge of US government, his ability to speak, read, and write the English language (that's going to be a tough one! ;-) then wait some more for a date to take the Oath of Allegiance and voila! he's a US Citizen!

5. We are awaiting with great anticipation a visit from Luke's parents April 22-May 29. We haven't seen them in three years! It's going to be neat to introduce them to the two grandchildren they haven't met in person and get to know again the oldest one they last saw as a 13-month-old baby.




The boys taking turns shoveling the driveway

Hosanna chillin' in a sled.

They LOVED sledding!

I just love Hosanna's expression! :-)



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Summer Fun, Autumn Pleasures; or, Life in the Melling Household continued...

Life marched on after Hosanna was born (funny that.) Here are some highlights of our life since then:

Hosanna's first smile at 6 weeks old. 

 June through July, I had all three children enrolled in the Summer Reading Program at the library. They each could read (I read to them) up to 72 books. After every 24 books read they got a free book. Between the three of them, these are the books they earned collectively this year (AND we got a family one week pass to the YMCA!)
 I loved being able to add to our book collection! 

On June 24 we had a Curious George themed birthday party for Ephraim who turned two on June 26. We had a bunch of friends and family over and spent most of the time outside (our duplex doesn't have that much space in it) in the 100+ degree weather playing in the kiddy blow up pool, having a water balloon fight, playing soccer, and eating food, including melting butter creme frosted cake. 

It was so hot, and the fenceline was the ONLY spot in our backyard with shade...well, that and the tent shown here...
  

 On July 7, Luke and I celebrated our 5th anniversary. To celebrate we all took a trip to Branson, Missouri at the end of August.
Married five years!!!


At Table Rock Lake in Branson, MO
Silver Dollar City!


I ran my second ever 5K race on September 29. I ran the Run/Walk for Life, which was benefiting the Women's Clinic of Kansas City, a pro-life clinic providing care and resources to local pregnant women and teens... 
 Outta breath after crossing the finish line.

Currently I'm trying to keep up with training for another 5K run in 2 weeks time. This one is part of the "Healthy Holiday Fun Run Series" that a local gym is sponsoring. There are three 5K/10K runs called "Halloween Hustle" on October 27, "Turkey Trails" on November 17, and "Candy Cane Course" on December 15. I skipped the first one, but am going to do the "Turkey Trails" on November 17. I don't know if I'll do the last one...it might be a bit cold.  

At 5.5 months old, Hosanna is sitting up fairly well on her own, she still topples over a bit, but she's getting there. 



She's got two bottom teeth trying to come through... any day now... She is SOOOO chubby and all smiles! She's by far been the most pleasant baby out of the three (I hope she stays that way as she grows up... )
Hosanna's first time sitting in the shopping cart seat all by herself at Aldi.
                          
 Ephraim knows about half of the ABC's, and can count to 4 on his own. He's saying his words SO much clearer now, and talking lots more. He surprises me every so often with what words he knows and phrases like "Come here Mommy!" I think Gideon is honestly a much better teacher than I am at this point because Ephraim is picking up on what Gideon says and does.
Potty training is coming along, too, slowly but surely. I think he's getting it much quicker than Gideon. Again, I think it's because of the example of big brother Gideon. 


Gideon is learning how to write his ABC's, I've begun to teach him phonics, and
he only just knows how to spell his name. At Walmart, I found notebooks he can practice the ABC's in that the child uses a dry erase marker or erasable crayons in


It has practice letters they can trace and shows them how to write the letters. It's pretty neat! There's a separate one for upper and lower case letters. Gideon LOVES it! It only took one time to get him to start writing in it by himself. 

We go to the library several times a week. I do it partly to get the kiddos out of the house, and partly because I want them to have a love of books and reading...and libraries. I have such fond memories of going to the library as a child. The boys LOVE 'Thomas the Train' and 'Curious George' books particularly, but I try to get other ones for variety's sake.
It's so cute, because when I read to the boys at home, sometimes I have Hosanna on my lap and she flaps her arms so hard to try and grab the book I'm holding in front of her. When she finally grabs it she sits there for a very short time holding onto the edges like she's reading it herself, then she starts flapping her arms again. 



The happy trio.



So that's the short version of what's going on in our life currently.