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10 Years of Home Ownership

Yesterday, May 18, 2017 marks 10 years since this day:


Hooray! We just bought an ugly kitchen. Closing day 2007.

Ten years since we excitedly closed on the ugliest house on the nicest block. We were 28 years old, childless, poor and probably had no right to pay so much for a house that needed so much. But as you can see from above, we were happy, clueless and ready to roll.

In less than one month, this house will belong to someone else.

Next month we are moving to a new house, about 20 minutes away from this one, but miles closer to where we want to be long-term. A big yard, a much larger house, an award-winning school district.

Because these last 10 years? We’ve grown two human beings. We’ve lost and gained new jobs. We’ve grown up.


Easter 2013


We’ve had happy times and sad times. We’ve taught two kids to ride bikes, to eat their veggies, to look both ways before crossing the street. We brought home a playful, adorable puppy, who has grown into a slower, chubbier, older, but still so happy and lovable dog. Basically, every single thing that’s happened in the last 10 years has happened in this house.

And now it’s going to belong to someone else. And that’s really hard.

But sometimes the hardest things are the things most worth doing. We’ve worked and saved and sacrificed to purchase a home for our family that is what we’ve always wanted. Finally, a two-story house so we can watch TV as loud as we want while the kids are in bed. A huge yard, with a beautiful pond where I envision us sitting on the deck watching herons and ducks and frogs visiting. Our kids are smart – scary smart – and we want them to have all the opportunities in the world to become what they’re going to be, and we are hopeful that this school district, and this community, will help them get there.

So this is the right decision for us.

But it’s still really hard to let go of this house that we put back together after years of neglect, that we know like the back of our hands, that feels like home.

I’ve written about our home remodeling projects dozens of times on this blog. Check out our progress over the last decade here, here, here, here and here.

And wish us luck on this new chapter. Because, you know we weren’t about to buy a move-in ready house. That’s just not in our DIY blood. So stay tuned as I hope to chronicle this new chapter of us remodeling our forever house.

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8 Years Old

Dear Riley,

Today you turn 8 years old. I’ve been writing you letters on this old blog since before you were born, and I think if I could talk to the me of 8 years ago, I’d like to tell her a few things about this baby. Who is not a baby anymore.


He is a thoughtful, hard-working, smart, sweet, funny little boy. I don’t know what we did to deserve to raise this kid, but I’m glad we did it. He is a pure joy to be around. He is destined for big things. He makes life fun, happy and worth living. All within 8 years of life.

I cannot wait to see what the next 8 years brings. Though I’m not in a rush to find out. Last week, you told me that you will be a teenager in 5 years.

“No, you won’t!” I exclaimed.

“Yes, I will. In 5 years, I’ll be 13.”




So my plan is to enjoy you as much as I can, every single day. And hope that as you get older, you want to be around me as much as I want to be around you.

Thank you for making me a mom. Thank you for being even more wonderful than I thought you’d be when you were still kicking me from the inside.


I love you my sweet boy.

Love, Mommy

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4 Years Old

Dear Charlotte,

Today you are 4 years and 12 days old. Sorry for the lateness of this post. I guess it’s par for the course for the second child. Let me describe you as a 4 year-0ld.

You. Are. Awesome.

You’re imaginative, hilarious, sweet, naughty and fun. You like girly things like princesses, jewelry and dresses. But you love playing pretend with your big brother, running around, being tough, calling yourself an American Ninja Warrior while you jump off the couch.

The love between you and your brother has been great to watch. You two are best friends and partners in crime and I couldn’t imagine our family without either of you in it. You two would be lost without each other, obviously. Even when you’re mad at him for looking at one of “your” books without asking, or turning off the TV when it was your turn. Yes, these are things you get mad about.

You’ve got a black eye right now. Of course you’re still the cutest little girl ever, but yes, my first black eye after 7 years of parenting. You fell off the scooter we got you for your birthday and got a swollen, bloody, bruised eye. Yikes. It just adds to your toughness. You will go down in history as the child that gave us our first ER visit and our first black eye.

You’ll start school all day, every day this fall. Four-year Kindergarten is all day at our elementary school. I’d be nervous for you, but I know you. You’re going to love every minute of it. You wished you could go to school every day in 3K, so I think this will make you happy. You want to be a big kid, like your brother. You love having friends.

You’re destined for great things, sweet girl. I’m so happy you’re part of our family.

I love you to infinity and beyond, angel.



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Dear Riley,

Today you turn seven years old. 2009 was a long time ago, I suppose. It doesn’t feel that way because it’s still so fresh in my mind. If I close my eyes, I swear I can still see your squirmy newborn self and the way you looked me dead in the eyes a few seconds after you were born. 

You’re almost old enough to start reading these letters I’ve written you over the years. You’ll find them interesting I’m sure, but you won’t fully understand until you’re a parent. I wouldn’t have. 

Today at seven years old, you’re smart, thoughtful, funny and sweet. You stopped your birthday party yesterday because Charlotte accidentally got bumped by a big kid and started crying. “Stop the game!” You yelled. “My sister is hurt!” This is par for the course for you, big bro. 


You’re hilarious. Yes, you’re goofy and punchy sometimes, but you’re classically funny too. Last week your teacher told me you delivered a perfect, “thanks! I’ll be here all week” at the exact right time. Way to go, bud. 

Friday night, after my first week at my new, big job, I was noticeably frazzled getting everything ready for your party when you said, “thanks for always making my birthday parties shine, Mommy.” I asked what you meant and you said that I always make your parties extra special. Your sweetness takes my breath away on a regular basis. And you already notice that birthday parties are my love language. 

You hugged and kissed all the friends who came to your party. At seven, you wanted your friends to know how much you care about them. Some boys wiped your kiss off, too cool of course. But it didn’t bother you. You are who you are and you don’t apologize. Please never lose this. 

The day you were born, you changed me for the better, forever. Thank you Riley. 

I love you to infinity and beyond. 


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Answered Questions

Ok, it appears that everyone on Facebook is doing this, but I need a more permanent record of the cute things my children say. So here it is, bloggy blog.

Riley, age 6, answers questions about Mommy.

1. What is something I always say to you? I love you (awww, be still my mommy heart)
2. What makes me happy? Me giving you a hug
3. What makes me sad? Being naughty
4. How do I make you laugh? Tickling me
5. What do you think I was like as a child? Happy
6. How old am I? 37 (whoa, right on the nose!)
7. How tall am I? 81″ (very specific, kid, but wrong)
8. What is my favorite thing to do? Do the laundry (if only I enjoyed it. I sure do it enough)
9. What do I do when you’re not around? Play my video games (HA!)
10. What am I really good at? Tap (aw, I love that he thought of this. For the record, I am in my second year of my weekly tap dancing class)
11. What is something I’m not good at? Fishing, probably (fair enough)
12. What do I do for a job? Work on your computer
13. What is my favorite food? Chili (I DO make a mean vegetarian chili!)
14. What do you enjoy doing with me? Going to fun places

And now, I asked Charlotte, age 3, the same questions, but this time, they were about her daddy.

1. What is something I always say to you? No (touche)
2. What makes me happy? Playing fun
3. What makes me sad? Playing naughty
4. How do I make you laugh? By making funny faces like this *makes funny face*
5. What do you think I was like as a child? Playing with toys
6. How old am I? 61
7. How tall am I? 1″
8. What is my favorite thing to do? Play with me and dance with me (awwwww)
9. What do I do when you’re not around? Be sad (HA!)
10. What am I really good at? Playing baseball (um…oooookay)
11. What is something I’m not good at? Tennis (again, ooookay)
12. What do I do for a job? Type on his computer
13. What is my favorite food? Spaghetti noodles
14. What do you enjoy doing with me? Playing with Dada

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10th Anniversary Trip to Maui

When we were little baby 26-year olds, Derek and I ventured to the island paradise of Maui for our honeymoon. This was back in 2005 before the days of smart phones and Pinterest and pumpkin spice lattes. The dark ages.

We always said we’d go back for our 10th anniversary and whaddyouyaknow? We pulled it off.

Things were obviously much more complicated this time around. We didn’t even own a house the last time we went there. Or a dog. Or really anything.

This time it took a symphony of many people, rearranged schedules and a 4-page Word document so my parents could run the orchestra – and get the kids to school clean, fed and happy – all on time. We owe them big. I think they’re STILL tired.


The view from our hotel room. The poor, 26-year old versions of us from 10 years ago could only afford a partial ocean view so we decided an upgrade was in order this time around. Hours were spent on this balcony just looking at the ocean whilst drinking some local beer.


Ten years ago we discovered a hidden black sand beach along the infamous Hana Highway. We had a general idea of where it was, but we considered ourselves incredibly lucky to find it once again. We were the only two people on this amazing beach while the Pacific Ocean roared cold and angry at our feet. It was amazing. We just kept looking at each other in disbelief. And then it started POURING. There’s a metaphor for marriage in there somewhere.


I believe during our last trip to Maui we rented a Geo Metro. I’m not even kidding. The rental car place talked us into upgrading to a Pontiac and we wisely agreed. This time, we again decided to go big or go home. And we did not want to go home. So we rented a convertible! A bitchin, Camaro convertible. We felt really cool. See above.


Before we knew it, the week was up and it was time to head home. Words cannot express how much I missed these two. I felt it in every ounce of my body. I ached to squeeze their cheeks, to see their smiles and to comb their hair and make their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

But the time away with my husband of 10 years was invaluable. We forgot what it was like to have uninterrupted conversations, to leisurely lay in bed in no rush to get up and get the day started, to stop off for a beer whenever the mood strikes us. It was glorious. My goal for the next 10 years is to remember that feeling of joy, love and happiness and incorporate it regularly into our everyday, hectic, crazy life.


Happy anniversary, babe. Thanks for making all my dreams come true. I love you.

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First Day of Preschool

Last week was Charlotte’s first day of school. We enrolled her in a K3 program at a private school where she’ll spend two mornings per week. It’s the same school Riley attended for K3 and little sis COULD NOT wait for her big day. We bought the backpack and lunch box and ….well, that’s about it. And in all honesty, the backpack and lunch box were birthday presents from grandma, so we really did nothing in preparation for her 10 weekly hours of school. Ha! Poor, poor second child.

What we did do? We talked it up! Since she’s never been in daycare and never spent much regular time away from her family, I wondered if this would be my child who clings to my leg at drop off, wetting my business casual pants with tears while I pried off her deathgrip and headed to work. In spring we ran a local 5K that offered free child care during the race and in the 27 minutes I was running, she was crying. I came back all sweaty to a little girl who thought she’d never see me again. Oy.

Talking up this monumental event worked. As did her seeing her big bro head to school the week before she did. She was so lost without having him as her partner in crime like she did all summer, so when she’d get sad, we’d just remind her that her turn was coming JUST NEXT WEEK!

Finally, the day arrived for her to start “3-year old school.”


She was clearly distraught.


Poor, poor thing.


Big bro had to jump in to comfort his sad, little sister.

Ok seriously, the only way I could describe her is proud. She wore that ginormous Elsa backpack with PURPOSE. She strutted through the parking lot like it was no thang. We posed for another picture outside the school, too.


You can just see the excitement and pride on her face. Into the classroom we went, the teachers were great at seeming genuinely excited to see her. She beamed. I said goodbye to her and hugged and kissed her twice. Waiting for a reaction. She hugged back and said “bye Mommy!” I waited for it to register with her that I was really leaving and would pick her up after lunch. Nope. She was too excited about the puzzle she was working on. I snuck out and that was it.

When I picked her up on my lunch hour, she looked older. I couldn’t believe it. She talked and talked about how much fun she had. She said she wanted to go back tomorrow. She was thrilled. She’s an official big girl.

And now I’m the one who’s proud.

I think one of the coolest things about having kids is the opportunity to re-live childhood. That’s been one of the most surprising and happiest things since becoming a parent. Seeing what your children do when you’re not around is amazing. Watching them become their own people is inspiring. I love this crazy, crazy life.

And because I’ll look back on this post in a few years, here is Riley’s first day of K3, three short years ago, when he attended the same school.

First day of preschool, 2012

First day of preschool, 2012

Ahhhhhh! My baby! I miss his little baby face. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the corner weeping.

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