Sunday, August 25, 2013

super hero birthday bash!

Somehow my sweet little baby boy has managed to grow up and turn three.  I'm in shock.  Wasn't he just a tiny, squishy newborn that took forever and a day (or four days) to arrive?

And didn't we just celebrate his first birthday, after which he quickly learned to walk... and fall.  I distinctly remember our first ER visit a week into the walking adventure.  In E vs. toy drum, toy drum won.

And, I swear, it was just yesterday that he turned two and started impressing us so much with his growing vocabulary, gentle nature and silly personality.

But somehow, at the end of July, he turned three.  Holy moly.  I am so blessed to call this little boy my son.  He makes me laugh daily, knows how to give the best hugs and kisses, brightens any room and is just a joy to be around.  I am so lucky to be his mama.

A couple weeks ago, we celebrated this little guy Super Hero style with a big group of family and friends.  It was such a perfect day - lots of people who love our little guy, fantastic weather and an overall fun party.

I love parties -- especially the pre-party planning and crafting.  But this was the first kid-focused party I'd thrown and I was a little nervous about how the details would come together.  I'm relieved to say, however, that everything seemed to work out pretty well.  We had fifteen kiddos under the age of seven and I think the only tears were related to a wayward elbow while everyone was scrambling to grab candy out of the pinata.  That's a success in my book!

The big bash started at 11 am (I look forward to the day we're not planning around naps!) and I had the kids start by making super heroes at our kitchen table.  It was a nice way to keep everyone occupied as the guests trickled in.  We had also set out some toys in the play room/office/junk room and the kids migrated in there as well.  Always fun to play with someone else's toys!

After everyone arrived and we'd wrapped up free play and craft time, we dug into the lunch spread.  The hubby and I went super simple this year and made sub sandwiches ("Hero" sandwiches - har, har) and veggie shooters - served alongside cut-up fresh fruit, bags of chips and a pasta salad (thanks, Mom).  It was so nice to have the prep work done the day before and I loved how simple it made serving food on the actual party day.  No rushing around at the grill, cleaning up the kitchen the morning of or accidentally forgetting an important ingredient, requiring a last minute dash to the store.

Following lunch, we headed out on a Super Hero Adventure!  The kiddos were given silly string and instructed to use their "spider web shooters" to spray Batman if he popped up.  Hubby and my brother in laws had hidden two Batman posters along the way to the park and the kids freaked out when they came across them.  Screams of pure joy and happiness.  So fun!

Just before we got to the park, we stopped to explain the next adventure - the kiddos were each to rescue a stuffed animal that had somehow gotten captured or trapped at the playground.  They took off running, rescued their victims within minutes and then proceeded to play for a bit.  Eventually, we made it back to the house for the final mission -- free the candy from the pinata!

The party wouldn't have been complete without cake and ice cream.  A super talented gal that I work with made the cake based upon some Pinterest inspiration photos and she did an amazing job.  We received so many compliments!  I also got an idea for serving ice cream off of Pinterest - dish scoops into cupcake liners ahead of time and don't worry about the mess at the party.  So handy!

We wrapped up the day by opening presents and our little guy was beyond spoiled.  We certainly have a very generous group of friends and family.  Too generous in fact.  I'm always humbled by all who love our little family; we are beyond blessed.

As a small token of appreciation, we put together goody bags for the kids.  I included a pack of crayons, a super hero coloring sheet, some super hero stickers, a felt mask (thanks Target Dollar Spot!) and a homemade Super E cookie (they turned out so much better than I'd anticipated, especially for my first attempt at royal icing sugar cookies!).  We also told our guests to disassemble the centerpieces to take home (super hero Tootsie Pops!) and will be sending personalized Super Hero photos with our thank you notes.  The photo backdrop was so much fun and I can't wait to share the shots I grabbed of the kids.  Their personalities shined through in the photos and I got the biggest kick out of watching them pose.

Besides crafting the centerpieces and photo backdrop, we also made a comic book pennant and decorated the mantle with framed Super Hero headshots.  Simple but festive!

Overall, we had a really fun day and it was so great to be able to welcome everyone into our home to celebrate.  It's the first big bash we've hosted at our new house and I loved having the space to entertain everyone.  Thanks again to all of our family and friends who made time to celebrate our little guy with us.  We love you!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

getting real.

Hi.  My name is Amy.  And I fell off the blogging wagon.  Now that we've gotten that over with... Want to see what the house looks like these days?

But first, a disclaimer:

I'm really sick of unpacking.  I'm anxious to put our mark on this place, but most nights I'd rather do something that isn't house related.  We've been going on lots of walks.  Playing in the dirt.  Celebrating birthdays, weddings and graduations.  Fishing in the retention pond.  Reading books.  Meeting neighbors.  Catching up on TV.  Visiting family.  Anything but hanging things on the walls and emptying more boxes. 

But I'm okay with it right now.  We've made some good progress on the garage.  The mirrors in E's bathroom were finally purchased and hung (just tonight!).  We've remodeled the laundry room (yes, already - more on that soon...).  We're getting there.  Slowly.

Now, back to the house.  These pictures were taken on my phone at 10:00 pm.  No staging involved.  Luckily, our house cleaner was here yesterday or it would have been worse :)

There is nothing on the walls in our bedroom.  Our lamps still have price tags and our shades are still covered in plastic.  We don't have a king sized blanket.  But we do have a bed.  And there are curtains hung - with real blinds behind them!

The master bathroom is in decent shape.  We have towel rings, cabinet hardware, towel books, accent towels and rugs!  I really want to add plantation shutters above the bathtub and I still need to figure out what to do with the vanity and wall in the middle of the sinks.

Rugs are hard to find.  I should be more specific. Rugs are hard to find when you're picky and cheap.  We finally found the one for the back door at Sam's.  But we continue to have a serious shoe problem back there.  I think I need to buy an organizer and bench for just inside the garage.

Also, the laundry room has been upgraded with a new tile floor, new baseboards and a fresh coat of paint.  The surrounding hardwood floors have also been replaced.  All thanks to a leaky washer hose.  We woke up one morning, not long after moving in, to a flooded basement, wet garage and soaked laundry room and powder room.  It was great fun.  But we're now the proud owners of washer hoses with a 20-year warranty!

Our drop zone continues to collect junk.  Although, it looks much better today than it has in months.  I really need to get some organizers and make this a useful spot to sort mail, store school bags, charge electronics, etc.  The powder room is in decent shape, though.  I still need to hang things on the walls and maybe even find a small table/stand for next to the door/across from the toilet.  It's a decently deep room and it would be nice to have a spot to store extra TP and other necessities.

I love our dining table.  And I love the design of our dining area rug...but I think it's too small.  I've been stalking Craigslist trying to find a long, narrow buffet for the big, blank wall.  I'm also on the lookout for curtains.  I'm debating whether to buy the same ones as the living room or try something different.  So many choices.  So few that I like.

We still need to add a tile backsplash in the kitchen.  I'm really leaning towards a grey glass subway tile.  And, we'll soon be adding two open shelves to the area next to the fridge/above the Keurig and wine.  So excited!

The living room continues to be a work in progress.  I recently picked up the wingback chair from Marshalls and love it.  The brown leather ottoman in front of the the armchair is on it's way out, I think.  I'm hoping to use the red pouf as a footstool instead.  But that means I need to bring in some more color.  I want to replace the art above the fireplace (an $8 find from Marshalls several years ago) with something a little more interesting.  And, I also want to bring in a small coffee table.  Maybe painted turquoise?  I continue to pick up random pillows whenever I'm out.  They still all have tags on them.  Shhh.

We just hung the mirrors in E's bathroom this evening.  It was difficult to find mirrors that fit the vanity and light fixtures.  I'm almost wondering if we should have done a large, framed rectangular mirror instead?  Unfortunately, at this point, the center outlet was in the way.  Maybe we should, instead, relocate the towel ring to the center?  Hmmmm.

Our queen sized sleigh bed is really too big for the spare bedroom.  But it works for now.  Ultimately, we'll move this bedroom set to a guest room in the basement.  For now, we've hung curtains.  But that's about it.  The highly hung curtains look so nice in magazines and online, but I'm not sure how I feel about them here.  Maybe the curtain rods are too small?  We still need to add blinds to these windows, paint the room, hang stuff on the walls and unpack everything that's thrown into the closet.  The bedding is in the wash as I type.

E's room is the only room in the house that has anything hung on the wall.  But it still needs permanent window coverings, more stuff for the walls, decorative pillows, etc.  It's a good thing we have such a cute little boy to distract from everything not finished!

The foyer is pretty much a blank slate.  Ultimately, the quilt rack will find a different home and we'd like to add board and batten along the two walls.  I'll probably add a bench and some hooks along one wall and a gallery wall of photos along the other wall.

The flex room is a complete dumping ground right now.  Toys.  Office stuff.  Man cave.  It's driving me nuts.

The basement is still completely overrun with boxes.  And, for now, I just avoid it.  About 25% is baby stuff we hope to need again someday.  Another 25% is man cave and craft room stuff that won't be unpacked until the basement is finished.  And the remainder is made up of holiday decorations and stuff that needs to be sorted through.  Someday.

And, despite looking like a complete disaster, the garage is in much better shape than it had been.  We have a few boxes left to carry to the basement, a patio set to relocate to our newly finished patio (woo hoo!) and a growing garage sale pile.  What's left should be able to be relocated to the extra garage bay after a couple more hours of work.  We're getting close!

I think the only areas fully unpacked are the freezer, pantry and fridge.  I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to stock up again.  Just don't pay attention to how desperately the pantry needs organized.  I've purchased shelves and baskets...I just need to empty it out and make order of it all.  Oddly enough, I enjoy that kind of thing. Organizing = fun.  Cleaning and Unpacking = no fun. 

So, two months in, that's where we're at.  Our concrete driveway, sidewalk and patio was just poured last week but we're still waiting on the land to be graded.  The builder is slowly working on the items we identified during our initial and 30-day walk through inspections.  The furnace has been repaired.  The laundry room has been remodeled.  The hot water heater has been fixed.  The garage door has been duct taped. Oh, the joys of home ownership.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I need help!  Well, lots of help.  But I'm going to start with a simple poll first.  Which curtains for E's room?

Both are from Land of Nod and they're more than I'd like to pay, but E's room is on the east side of the house and the morning sun is making it hard for him to sleep in.  It's also tough as it stays light later - he keeps asking us to "turn the lights out" at bedtime.  It's hard to explain we can't turn the sun off!

Left: Color Edge Curtain Panels (in green)
Middle: E's room - there are small windows that flank each side of the bed (one shown) and another large window to the left of the bookshelf
Right: All Solar Systems Curtain Panels

I'm leaning towards the green and white ones, which I think will keep the room bright and crisp.  I'm afraid the other ones might make the room seem too dark, even though the colors are spot on.  I'm contemplating only hanging one panel on each of the small windows (pushed towards the left on the left window and pushed towards the right on the right window), but I'm not sure.  Would two look better?

To recap:
1) Curtains on the left or the right?  Or something else?
2) How should I hang them?  2 panels to window?  Or just one panel on the smaller windows?

PS - I have two posts in draft, just waiting to be finished - so hopefully I'll have a real update soon!  I'm not abandoning this lil blog quite yet :)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

intermission over.

We've officially been in the house for 17 sleeps (can you tell I have a wee one?).  And holy moly.  In some ways it feels like we moved in yesterday.  Like the fact we have half-emptied boxes in every room.  And  paper blinds hanging on many windows.  And an empty refrigerator.  And a garage full 'o stuff.  And a basement even more full 'o stuff.

But, in other ways, it's already feeling like our home.  Like we've been here, making memories, for years.  I know that it's really our little family that makes this house a home.  That brings the love and laughter and warmth.  But I also know that all of our extended family that made themselves available to help us move, were really the ones that caused the house to overflow with love and support.  The majority of our family is four to five hours away, so building this house has meant so much more than giving us additional space and new amenities.  We finally have the room to welcome guests properly.  And to host special occasions.  And I can't wait.

So, as anxious as I am to unpack and hang things on walls and really get settled, I'm also okay with playing outside, sitting down at night to read a book or do a puzzle with E or to watch a show with my Hubby.  We're here to stay.  And all of the boxes and all of the stuff will eventually find a place.  The important thing is that we're already making memories in this house.  And it's feeling more like a home than our temporary house ever did.

As you can imagine, the past two and a half weeks have been eventful (umm, so much so that I haven't posted...whoops!).

- day 160:  Moving day!  A huge thanks to our parents, Kendall, Tootie, Donna and Connor, who came up/over/down and helped us get all of our stuff from points A (condo), B (storage unit) and C (IKEA!) to point D (lot 23).  We are beyond grateful.  And, I promise, when things settle down, I'll write a real thank you note to tell you so.

I've never packed and moved at the same time before.  I've also never allowed others to pack for me.  And I've certainly never moved a full house in a day before. It's exhausting!  Our morning started with a call from U-Haul at 6 am, letting us know that the truck we had reserved hadn't been returned because it was stuck in a field.  And, they didn't have a replacement because most of their trucks had been vandalized overnight (apparently it's the new 'thing' to break into these lots and steal catalytic converters - so sad).  Hubby was sitting for the police exam Saturday morning (perfect timing, right?), so my FIL and I loaded up and headed to the next town over, in hopes they could help us out.  Thankfully, they had a truck we could use for the day.  And I'm proud to say I've officially driven a 26' truck.  For a few blocks anyway...  The rest of the day was much less eventful.  Thank you, God.

- day 161: Started the unpacking process, installed a bunch of hardware, ran errands and did a lot of staring at boxes/cabinets/etc. feeling completely overwhelmed.  Do you know how hard it is to find things that you didn't pack?  It's kind of like Christmas every time I open a new box.

- day 162/163: I headed back to work to wrap up the quarter, but Hubby stayed home and managed contractors/answered questions.  They wrapped up the plumbing, did drywall repairs, replaced the master bedroom carpet and completed some carpentry finish work.  A busy few days!

- day 164/165: We both worked and did the best we could to continue the unpacking process at night.  A big thanks to my Dad who left behind enough food to keep us fed for the week!

- day 166: To celebrate the 10-Q being filed, I took a day off of work to work on ths house.  I really need a day off that doesn't involve work.  Like really.

- days 167-170: Lots of errands.  And more unpacking.  And a little bit of curtain hanging, pantry organizing and  laundry catch-up.  All made much more bearable by a sweet new neighbor that stopped by with a delicious plate of cookies.

- day 171: As we were getting ready to leave for work, we discovered our garage was wet.  Everything had stayed dry during the crazy amounts of rain we'd been getting, so this was quite concerning.  Upon moving back inside, we discovered that our laundry room was completely flooded.  And the powder room beside it was wet.  And the basement below was the most wet.  I'd put laundry in to wash the previous morning and was planning to switch it over to dry that morning.  But somehow, in 24 hours, a drip/leak had developed where the hose connected to the wall spiggot.  And was there water.  We're still trying to figure out what caused the problem, since I'd done at least a dozen loads of laundry without issue.  Everything is currently dried out and the washer is hooked back up, but I'm only turning the water on to do a load of laundry and then it's immediately being switched off.  Ugh.  We have to replace our wood floors in the powder room, switch out baseboards and quarter-round, and readhere the vinyl in the laundry room (and, yes, I'm now actually glad we switched from wood to vinyl in the laundry room).  Luckily, everything in the basement was in plastic bins and was salvagable.  It's always something..... 

- days 172-177: We've continued to slowly work on getting settled.  And figuring out what else needs to be done.  Even in a new house, the work is never done.

We were able to make some progress on E's room this past weekend and I'm loving it so far.  I'll do a full post soon, but here's a sneak peek for now.  My MIL made the quilt and it's absolutely perfect.

I think E's definitely getting comfy in his new space.

Our house cleaner came today and I can't tell you what a difference in makes to have the dust removed, the floors cleaned and everything shining.  Such a motivator.  She's been such a blessing to us -- and my sanity.

We've had a few non-house related distractions recently, as well.  Hubby had his wisdoom teeth removed on Friday so we tried to have a slower-paced weekend.  He did pretty well... until being diagnosed with a dry socket today.  Bummer.  While he recovered on Saturday morning, E and I went to hang out with some of our good friends.  They just welcomed another precious baby girl to their family.  And, oh my, is she sweet.  I had the lucky priviliege of taking some photos of her and her big sister and, as I've worked on editing them, I can't get over how incredibly perfect she is.  Not good for the baby fever.  Not good at all.

Also not good for the fever?  These sweet bows that I had a blast making.  I'm pretty proud of how they turned out.  And I only burned myself three times..and poked myself with a pin once.  Thank you, Pinterest!

I've also been working on reading the latest book for our neighborhood book club.  No showing up without actually reading the book this month.  Why?  Because I was silly enough to sign up to host this month.  But, I had a good reason.  I figured the ladies would give me a little more grace for having a half put together house now than they would in another nine months.  Right?  Right.  At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Now, I just need to find the serving platters, figure out a killer mixed drink and dig up some delicious appetizer recipes.  10 days and counting...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

day 160

I slipped away to the house for a bit on Saturday morning to take photos before we started filling it up. Our walk-through was on Friday afternoon and we still have a punch list of items to complete, but I'm thankful we were able to receive occupancy and avoid a short-term hotel stay.

The punch list isn't too crazy and includes things like: patch drywall, touch up paint, install hood extender, replace master bedroom carpet, fix leaky sink, tighten tub faucet, finish installing plumbing fixtures, caulk around windows, shim squeaky floor, trim closet door, add additional shelf brackets, etc.

We also have a to-do list, which includes: hanging curtain rods/blinds, installing cabinet hardware, hanging bathroom fixtures (TP holders, towel rings, etc.) and installing the washer/dryer.  My father-in-law was able to get the hardware installed and we hung those temporary paper blinds over most windows.  Hubby took care of the washer/dryer and will start installing the remaining bathroom fixtures this week.  Progress!

In other words, it's mostly done.  But the contractors are working hard to make sure it's totally done soon.  The drywall guy, carpet crew, carpenter and plumbers were all here today.  And the painter is supposed to be coming tomorrow.  I'm finally seeing the light that we'll be wrapping up soon!

I'll continue to share photos as we personalize this house and make it our home, but I wanted to make sure I documented what it looked like on move-in day.

Without further ado...

[exterior - still need to paint trim, stain door and pour sidewalk/driveway]
[foyer - still need to stain door]
[living room from foyer - still need to touch up paint]
[dining area from living room]
[flex room]
[living room from flex room]
[dining area - still need a great rug!]
[living room from dining area]
[dining area and my gorgeous handmade table]
[kitchen - before hardware was installed]
[kitchen - before hardware and hood extender]
[kitchen - before hardware]
[kitchen - before hardware]
[kitchen - before hardware]
[E's room from hallway]
[E's room/closet]
[E's room]
[main bath - before hardware, plumbing and mirrors]
[spare bedroom]
[spare bedroom/closet]
[powder room before pedestal sink]
[laundry room before washer/dryer]
[drop zone before hardware]
[hallway off kitchen - master bedroom at end, basement stairs on right]
[master bedroom]
[master bathroom]
[master bathroom tub]
[master bathroom vanity]
[master bathroom vanity]
[master bathroom shower]
[master bathroom shower]
[master bathroom]
[master bath vanity]
Hopefully I'll be back with moving stories and more interior shots later this week.  Until then, you'll find me unpacking, working and sleeping.