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10 Years of Home Ownership

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

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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.

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Easter 2013

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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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The Year in Photos

I’m not Time Magazine but I like the idea of summing up 2014 with one photo I took for each month. Here they are:

January

Riley at skating lessons.

Riley at skating lessons.

February

We spent a February weekend at an indoor waterpark and it did wonders to cure our cabin fever.

We spent a February weekend at an indoor waterpark and it did wonders to cure our cabin fever.

March

Our little man was just a smidge happy during his 5th birthday party - Mario style.

Our little man was just a smidge happy during his 5th birthday party – Mario style.

April

The snow finally started to melt so we headed to Lapham Peak for a hike and to climb the look out tower.

The snow finally started to melt so we headed to Lapham Peak for a hike and to climb the look out tower.

May

Mother's Day - one of my favorite days of the year. Made better by the fact that it was actually warm and sunny. Miracle of miracles.

Mother’s Day – one of my favorite days of the year. Made better by the fact that it was actually warm and sunny. Miracle of miracles.

June

In June we visited one of my new favorite places in Wisconsin - Gov. Dodge State Park. We camped for a few days and discovered the beauty of this park. Seriously, it was like Fern Gully up in here.

In June we visited one of my new favorite places in Wisconsin – Gov. Dodge State Park. We camped for a few days and discovered the beauty of this park. Seriously, it was like Fern Gully up in here.

July

We celebrated Charlotte's 2nd birthday with a "neigh neigh party. One of my favorite times was watching her dive head-first into the horse cake Papa made her.

We celebrated Charlotte’s 2nd birthday with a “neigh neigh” party. One of my favorite times was watching her dive head-first into the horse cake Papa made her.

August

We finished our seemingly never-ending kitchen remodel in August. DIY for the win!

We finished our seemingly never-ending kitchen remodel in August. DIY for the win!

September

Riley started Kindergarten this year. We are in the big times now.

Riley started Kindergarten this year. We are in the big times now.

October

Riley's amazing homemade Emmett from the Lego Movie Halloween costume was the highlight of October.

Riley’s amazing homemade Emmett from the Lego Movie Halloween costume was the highlight of October.

November

Before I knew it, I was turning cough, cough 36 ugh. At least these cuties helped me blow out my candles.

Before I knew it, I was turning cough, cough 36 ugh. At least these cuties helped me blow out my candles.

Xmas came and went and now we can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for us!

Xmas came and went and now we can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for us!

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The Kitchen is Done, Dude!

Finally! I present to you, our finished kitchen. Cue the trumpets!

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Let me remind you what we were dealing with:

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And this:

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Which is now this!

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Opening up the wall between our kitchen and living room has made me happier than a hole in the wall should make anyone. I can see the kids when they’re playing in the living room. I can spy on them and know who stole what from whom and why. I can see people walking their dogs past our house while I’m making dinner. If someone didn’t pick up their dog’s poop, I could be over to the front door to yell at them in a flash. These are real benefits, people!

Check out the new fridge that I MAY have shed a tear or two whilst shopping for. Apparently when your fridge opening is 1 inch smaller than standard fridge size, the powers that be make you have a nervous breakdown until you find ONE fridge in the entire universe that will fit. ONE.

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It’s been a few weeks since we completed the kitchen and some days I still can’t believe it’s ours. We’ve lived in this house for seven years, but this is actually the second kitchen remodel we did. When we moved in, we didn’t have the money to do a full remodel like we wanted to, so we just installed stock cabinets (which we actually kept for this remodel) and laminate counters and sticky tile floors. Remember?

Why yes, those cabinets are made of wood paneling. Thanks for asking.

Why yes, those cabinets are made of wood paneling. Thanks for asking.

It looked like a dungeon, with lots of wasted space. And now it’s just a distant memory.

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I’m so in love with our back splash and the little shelf to hold my plants above the sink.

Read the earlier kitchen updates here and here.

Just about everything in this kitchen is from Hobo. The cabinets were purchased there 7 years ago, but we bought the large pantry and a few more base cabinets that worked with our new configuration. We were so lucky they still had the same cabinets available! The backsplash – Hobo. And expensive, but worth it, IMO. The counters are quartz and again, from Hobo. They were also expensive, but still cheaper professionally installed by Hobo than Home Depot, Lowe’s or Menards.

All the work was done by my husband. And no, you can’t have him. He’s all MINE!

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Kitchen Remodel – Phase 2

About a month ago, I shared the state of our kitchen remodel.

Work has been progressing nicely, thank you very much. Here’s an update:

IMG_8294The pass-through is framed out and awaiting paint…

IMG_8327Color has been slathered on the walls. Some of it by a 5 year-old. Free labor!

There have been a lot of little touches – electrical work, re-routing heating vents, unattaching the counters from the cabinets, taking down all the wood trim. And this weekend, we’re embarking on the mother of all projects – the floor.

We are pulling up the sticky tiles seen above that we put down hastily 7 years ago and replacing them with pretty ceramic tile. We’re going to use the same tile all the way down the hallway, so that equals a big project.

The kids will be staying with Grandma and Grandpa while Derek and I live like 2007 and work like dogs on our house without a care in the world pertaining to little human beings that share our DNA.

Call me crazy, but I think it might actually be kinda fun.

 

 

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Single Mom Week

 

 

 

As I wrote a year ago, I was once again a single mom for 5 lovely days while my husband went on a “dude trip” out to the Pacific Northeast. In the past, I might have put “lovely” in sarcastic quotations, but I can honestly say that this was a really enjoyable, albeit tiring week for me.

Last year, I wrote this. A tale of solo parenting a 4-year old and a 5-month old baby. The house was a mess, I was crabby, the dog didn’t even want to be around me and then I got a cold.

This year, I psyched myself up for it. I knew it was going to be challenging with a now- 5-year old and a 22-month old. But I was looking forward to a nice weekend, a day off work and then Grandma and Grandpa stepping in so I didn’t have to use up all of my PTO.

Day 1: Playground. The happiest place on Earth for my children. Because they don’t know about Disneyworld. Yet.

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Riley offered to hold Charlotte for several trips down this ginormous slide and the proud smile on his face, and the glee-filled grin on hers mad me so happy that I instantly texted it to Daddy.

Sunday we spent the day at my parent’s house, which is almost an hour away out in the country. Gale-force winds and 40-degree temps kept us in the house the whole time. I was clearly off my game this day as I shockingly discovered that I only had one diaper in the diaper bag. Can you even call it a diaper bag if it holds no diapers?

I didn’t have time to ponder this because little miss pooped so incredibly much that I took a journey to the closest gas station, 10 minutes away, and spent $15 on a pack of diapers one size too big. This was horrifically traumatic for an extreme couponer like myself. Let’s not talk about it.

Monday was my day off work and Charlotte and I took Riley to school and then hit up the grocery story together. I honestly don’t think I’ve grocery shopped with just her since she was a tiny infant in the car seat carrier. At almost 2, she wasn’t exactly pleasant to shop with, especially because I refuse to be one of those parents who opens the food before they buy it to quiet down a loud baby. So I had a loud baby who was yelling “open open!” and thrusting a package of string cheese at me. No, it wasn’t 100% pleasant, but she happily soaked in the oohs and aahs of other weekday shoppers and finally got that cheese in the car.

I rented Frozen from Red Box because it was a rainy day and I believe we are the only household with young children in North America who has yet to see the movie. So we snuggled under the covers and watched:

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And yes, it’s worth the hype. Super cute movie. We celebrated watching it by crowning our own Princess Charlotte.

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The next few days were a blur of early morning showers before the kids woke up, greeting my parents who were staying with the kids all day while I worked and straightening up the house after the kids were finally tucked into bed. Yes, it was exhausting, but they missed their daddy so much that I tried to make this our own fun little staycation.

We went to story time at the library, which was the cutest thing ever. No pictures because I was too busy watching Charlotte try to keep up with the older kids and sing along with songs she’d never heard before. Too cute.

The entire week was freezing cold and rainy. I’m not kidding. We didn’t get a single day above 45 degrees or not raining. So we could not even go outside at all. We made rice krispie treats, we colored, we danced, we built forts. And on the last day of Daddy’s trip, we hit up an indoor playground for kids:

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How did our forefathers entertain their children in crappy weather?

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These are all dried beans. I found beans in her diaper that night. Gross.

20140509-153702.jpgI would like this giant Lite Brite in my house. K, thanks.

The week was not uneventful though. Thursday, I had to work from home with both kids. Not an easy feat. Pair that with the fact that I had a client call that was not scheduled during naptime, I knew this could be tricky. And it was.

Derek’s office is in the basement, so I decided to set up shop there and keep Charlotte in the room she’s normally in while Daddy works. I gated her in, gave her a snack and turned on Dora. Within 15 minutes, she had broken out and was in the office with me, babbling and talking, while I muted my phone and only briefly unmuted it to give one or two word answers.

The previous day I had started cleaning out our storage room (Super Mom!) so a lot of old toys were out in the basement that usually aren’t. Luckily, Charlotte began playing with the toys while I continued the call with my client. As I spoke on the call, I kept an eye on Charlotte and then to my horror, I saw a mouse casually traipse across the basement floor. Had I not been on the phone, I would have screamed and jumped onto the desk clutching my innocent child.

Since I was having a billable conference call, I had to remain calm. I sat still for a minute, all while talking status with the client. Without missing a beat (I think) I overturned a garbage can, dumping its contents onto the office floor and RAN after the mouse, with my iPhone pressed to my ear. I flipped the garbage can over the mouse and put a heavy box on it. The thing squealed to high heaven.

After the call, I called Derek who said to leave it since he’d be home later that night. The poor mouse died in there. I have no idea how it got in, but I don’t think there are any others. We’ve had a loaded trap set out for a week now and haven’t caught anythin.g

Finally, Derek was home. I missed him so much and the kids did too. But I would probably give myself a sold B+ this year as opposed to a C- from last year.

 

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Our Kitchen Remodel – Phase 1

If you’ve read this blog before, you may remember that we have been remodeling our 60-year old house for the entire (almost) 7 years we’ve lived here. You can read other remodeling stories and reveals here, here and here.

One of the projects I’ve been dreading is what we’re undertaking right now – the kitchen. Kitchens are kinda necessary. Especially when you’ve got kids. So we are doing this kitchen remodel in phases to minimize the impact on all of us. We need appliances, obvi.

When we bought our house, the kitchen was a mess. It needed a total gut. Much like the rest of the house:

Why yes, those cabinets are made of wood paneling. Thanks for asking.

Why yes, those cabinets are made of wood paneling. Thanks for asking.

Since we had to remodel every single room in our house, we did a quickie kitchen remodel. We replaced the cabinets and counters, the flooring and backsplash. We re-painted, got a new sink, and that’s about it. Got a super old stove from my in-laws and of course installed a dishwasher. We went the cheap route, knowing that in the near future we’d do the kitchen remodel we wanted.

 

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

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

So for the last 7 years, this is what our kitchen has looked like. Not bad. Not great. Not an ideal layout.

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So that’s why we decided to do this:

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We opened up the wall between the kitchen and the living room. Open concept, baby! Well, mostly. It’s going to be more of a pass-thru.

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We had to build some soffiting (when I say we, I mean my husband). That bare drywall used to be a window, but we wanted a place for a stove/hood/microwave, so this was the logical place for us to create our kitchen “triangle.” The window had to go, but the extra light from ripping out the wall leading to the living room makes up for it.

So this is the state of our kitchen right now. There’s a laundry basket waiting to be taken downstairs and there are dishes on the counter. This is real life and this is us living through yet another remodeling project. Good thing we’re used to it. And stay tuned.

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I Heart Mornings

I have never in my life been a morning person. The entire thought of my headline is laughable. However, these days there is a small window of weekday mornings that I look forward to. I tried to capture this 30-minute timeline in pictures this week. Here we go:

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The day starts right around 7 when I hear our bedroom door open and feel this little guy crawl over me to lay in between Derek and me. He snuggles under the covers, lays into the crook of my arm and says something really random and unexpected. This morning his first words of the day were, “Mommy, I wonder what the inside of your work looks like.” Good morning to you too, buddy!photo 2

After we all snuggle and wake up a bit, he begs to go in and get Charlotte. He insists on being the one who opens her door first. If I open it first, we close it and start over.photo 3

Charlotte is always sitting up in her crib by this time, just waiting for us to come in. This particular morning she was very tired and she insisted on resting her head on my shoulder (my favorite), while snuggling her Lambie, blanket and holding two pacifiers. photo 4

I could’ve stay like this all day. I think she would’ve liked that, too.

After changing Charlotte and getting her dressed for the day, I begin the chaos that is trying to get myself ready, make breakfast for the kids, and get out of the house so Riley can make it school on time and I can make it to work on time(ish).

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As I make breakfast, the kids wait, oh so patiently. This morning I’m thankful for Trader Joe’s blueberry waffles. They smell so good, are fairly low in sugar and the kids love them. So much so that I have to make a third waffle for them to split after they both devour their breakfasts.

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The tip of the breakfast iceberg.

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Finally there is silence and Derek and I can say good morning and make our own breakfasts. He takes care of the dog in the morning and meticulously straightens up the house from the night before. Sometimes I love having an OCD husband.

We all sit down and enjoy breakfast together, especially our coffee, before the second phase of our morning starts where I jump in the shower, while Riley gets himself dressed (after being told repeatedly – listening on the first time is not his strong suit these days), and Charlotte bangs on the bathroom door calling for me. A lot of coffee is needed most mornings.
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I love the first few quiet moments of our day. The kids are snuggly, the house is quiet and we’re all together, and happy. For the first time in my life, I think I might be a morning person. 



 

 

 

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