Brisk Me Away


**Annie is 4!!**

Our big girl turned 4 on 5/26. Below is a bit about her, starting with her questionnaire. We also had a family photo shoot just before her birthday, so these are her solo pics. Cutie!
 1. What is your favorite color? pink and purple
 2. What is your favorite toy? dollhouse and backback (new bday toys that are fresh on her mind), so I'll also add stroller, babies, stuffed animals
3. What is your favorite fruit? peaches
4. What is your favorite tv show? Veggie Tales (also Pinkalicious, Minnie Mouse, Doc McStuffins)
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? carrots
6. What is your favorite outfit? Elsa Ana dress
7. What is your favorite game/sport? Feed the Woozle (school), says she likes to watch volleyball (we've seen the PCS girls play and also her cousin in KY)
8. What is your favorite snack? goldfish
9. What is your favorite animal? tigers
10. What is your favorite song? This is the Song that Never Ends
11. What is your favorite book? Pinkalicious, she loves to be read to and will accept most!
12. Who is your best friend? Owen and Connor
13. What is your favorite cereal? Krispies
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play with Chalk
15. What is your favorite drink? Chocolate milk and Juice
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Pink kitty, pink blankie (tons of stuff in her bed-different stuffed animals that are special to her at that moment)
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? donuts
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? cake
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? doctor
21. What is your favorite thing to do at school? play with all of the toys

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I was looking back for her 3.5 year post, and evidently I never did one! Darn! So this will be a bit long. I just try to take a few notes about the kids as we do life, so they may seem random, but I want to remember the little things about our littles! Overall, though, from 3 to 4 has been much easier with Annie. She's a bit more chill and able to process things rather than quickly get upset and throw fits. I can talk her through things and she is able to stop and think instead of become irrational. :)

-Annie is a spunky, happy-go-lucky girl. She is sweet and passionate at the same time. She is very much a girly girl and also has the emotional personality you think of with girls. She cries at the drop of a hat and then the next minute is totally fine. She has a sassy side that lands her in time out fairly often, then she also has such a loving side that is extremely sweet and demonstrative. She is the most physically loving of the 3 kids and just adores sitting close or in our laps, hugging, giving cuddles, etc. She will fall asleep while laying on daddy, whereas brother would never be able to do that. Sometimes when she is having an emotional time, this physical touch can do the trick to snap her out of it. Once when we were swimming she swam to me and I held her close and squeezed her. She said, "I like this so much!" One time I was asking those little conversation starters and asked her what makes her happy. She said, "Cuddling with Mommy."

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-Annie has  many "isms" that are uniquely hers and uses LOTS of expression when she speaks. She shortens everything, and we get a kick out of it. We don't know where it comes from! Some of these are Hens for Henry, pops for Papa, mons for Manar, Rubes for Ruby, go pods, Anns for herself, shugs for sugar, makes for makeup, and many more. She tries to imitate what she hears, but gets it a little off, so she ends up saying her own version of certain expressions. Some examples are, "Goodness aprons!" (for goodness gracious), "What in the whole world?", "What in the goodness?", "I'll watch an eye on her" (talking about keeping an eye on Ruby, "They're tumple overboarding!" (for they're toppling overboard!), calls braids "braves", sleeves "leaves", and "skin milk" for skim milk. She went through a phase of adding "ish" to words to make her own version (like sparklish). If she doesn't know a word, she uses "thingies". Says "prize its" for privates. Just the other day she said, "Good lands!" after something happened-this is a Steven expression! She had a pinata for her birthday and kept calling it a "pon-yo". She took Mr. Swanner over to show him the "pon-yo"and explained to him, "You hit it and candy goes EVERYWHERE!" She can never remember the term "goose bumps" and instead calls them "duck bumps".
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-There are a few things that make Annie escalate quickly. She hates to be hot, especially in the car. She cracked me up one day when she said, "It's too hot! I can't breathe!!" I could totally relate! She cries and cries that her back is hot in her car seat. And she has a meltdown if her shirt is up gets pulled up in the back or her undies get in her bottom (her explanation of a wedgie). Oh the car seat woes!
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Thank u mom. You're precious.
Little girl vs big girl
Thinks body is bottom
6/6 tuBes adenoid
Goodnight little mermaid mommy
Loves her Pearl jewelry
Jump up like a pup!
Catching sunshine in a bucket
I love manar. I love her soft arms.
That's a lot of sos
Why do we say yes mam? So we don't get spankings?
I had to go back to school-awe. I'm sorry mommy
Talking about throw up after-"it was like terrible" 8/12
Oh my!
Big girl at prek, teachers complimentary, peek in on her working, fave buddies Owen Connor, wants to have Owen to swim
Boat ride
Loves to talk about ballet, show us her dance moves
I have a baby in my tummy
Concept of time...last year
Doesn't like doors cabinets opened and closes them herself
Loves jewelry 
Adores playground
Does it have buttons?
Last year, last night, confusion about when things happen
Upset about shirt up in car seat and wedgies
Taken out by waves at beach
Prays and abbreviate all names, even her own, pops, mons, hens, rubes, go pods
Always notice when we're not buckled
Singing bible, saying pledges,
Got gum from faith!
Psalm 19:14 let the words
I'm good at sistering!!
Shugs for sugar
What does queen do? She wands people
Wham I️ grow up and I’m a princess...can I️ have 2 braids?
Gum treat
Airplane eating
R u gonna eat mommy?
Space and rocket center
Up on top of road
I can’t find my whoohoo!! Yelling from bed
Time out over baby Jesus nativity
Did u know I can have gum? Tells strangers
Can I tell u a secret? Did u know cats purr?
Asks questions then in middle of my answer says “I love you mommy!!” I want to hug you when we get home
Plays school on holiday
In Big church. Why didn’t we pray for those sick people in the hospital? (James in nursing home)
And please give us a new puppy, ok Jesus?
I like you mommy-said right after I started to scold her for doing something
I like your neck-she tells me
Asked if she could marry daddy when she grows up

1/3 front off bed
Sleeping perfectly laid out with baby under blanket and arm on top. Pretending to be pregnant a lot. Talks a lot about Mary and baby Jesus. Always spotting the nativity. Calls angels fairies.
Only an hr nap now...1:30-3
Happy when sick. “I accidentally spit up a little bit in my bed. Sorry mom.”
So difficult eating-keeps food in cheek for forever. Hid her broccoli behind table.
That man has a fat tummy!
Let’s do hand stacks!
“I love u in my heart”
I love you Jesus. I love your heart. Amen
Boz prayer
So so excited about signing up for dance
Praying-thank you for all the sweet and cuddly animals
I like your privates! To daddy in shower
Whoo girl when live music comes on-valentines mei wei
Wedges-big bumps!!
Peter the tiger-peter pastor
3/16-Sweet playing w grandma “tuh-wit”
Showed zebra her zebra toy
Loves snuggling-hotel sleeping. Fell off bed!
I’ve missed u daddy. I haven’t been w u in a long time. Ur a sweet daddy.
I love u in ur chicken remodel
I’m hot!!! My back is hot!! So upset about shirt being up or wedgie
My neck hurts!!! When playing iPad
Interested in writing name April

4/19-big car conversation about heaven, sin, Adam/eve, Jesus. Started w Maggie is dead. Do people die?

Jaspers our babysitter and she lets us stay up late and watch a movie!!
Aunt Mae spoils us!!!
Wrote name great 4/30
Terrible w names
Are they twins?
Buckle herself in
Colors in lines



Henry is 6!

Henry turned 6 on February 26th. It was a Monday, and he had t-ball practice, so we grabbed a quick dinner together prior, then got ice cream cones at Jack's near the ball field. We had his actual party on Saturday the 24th. I'll post separately about that. We had fun celebrating our big 6 year old!!It's hard to believe we have a kid who's age can't fit on one hand anymore, but it's true whether we believe it or not! Below is his "interview" about some of his favorites.

1. What is your favorite color? blue
 2. What is your favorite toy? Fingerlings and stuffed animal from zoo
3. What is your favorite fruit? strawberries
4. What is your favorite tv show? Curious George
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Chicken nuggets with ketchup...actually my favorite food is pizza
6. What is your favorite outfit? Green Nike slick shirt
7. What is your favorite game/sport? Tug of War/Tball
8. What is your favorite snack? strawberries and goldfish
9. What is your favorite animal? squid...actually polar bear, later added poodle
10. What is your favorite song? Climb Every Mountain (Sound of Music)
11. What is your favorite book? Little Pilgrim's Progress
12. Who is your best friend? Abby and Eli (Eli doesn't even go to his school anymore, but Abby is in his class)
13. What is your favorite cereal? Multi-grain Cheerios
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Stand up on our swing in the yard (the one Steven made that hangs from the tree) and swing from side to side
15. What is your favorite drink? water and chocolate milk
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas (NOT Halloween-it's spooky)
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Gray blanket
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? pancakes (which he gets once in a blue moon)
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? Police man, doctor
21. What is your favorite subject in school? Bible art (I'm adding this question!)

Henry is a kindergartener we are 6 months in, and he is fully seasoned and doing great! It is fun to see him learning to read, write, do more involved math, and just generally grow in maturity. He really enjoys going to school and does not complain about it. I get to home school him on Monday and Wednesday, and we are finally in a good groove with that. I enjoy getting to teach him and getting to have a little extra time with just him. We have to start on the weekend, so he and I usually do school for 1-1.5 hours on Sunday morning while Steven and the girls run errands. By noon on Sunday, we feel like a very accomplished bunch! Then we work on M and W afternoons during the girls' nap time to get the rest done. As the year has progressed, I have been able to send some of his seat work for him to do on his PreK days with Annie. Overall, he has had a great kindergarten year so far, and we are so pleased! He loves his teacher, Mrs. Killough, and loves all the fun extras he gets to do like PE, art, etc. He was a shepherd in the school Christmas play, and he was SO proud. All of the traditions at PCS are so fun for him, and I love seeing him get to participate in those. His teacher pulled me aside one day to show me the way he had done one of their activities (covering pictures with shapes pieces). She said he chose a different shape than all the other students in her current class and in previous classes to cover a particular part of the's kind of hard to explain...but she was bragging on him and showing me that he thinks outside the box and seems to be the type of kid who is good with puzzles/figuring out different ways to do things from what she's seen him do in class and that he might need to be taught differently during our home school times....(these are the type of questions you might see on IQ tests). I don't know much about all this even though I'm a teacher myself, but it made me proud and also chuckle. He certainly thinks outside the box and of course I'd have a kid who needs a challenge when learning!

Henry is truly a singer. He sings CONSTANTLY and has a great voice. I can honestly say that someone comes up to me weekly and says, "I heard Henry sing! He needs to be doing something with that! He has such a great voice!" His teacher came to me and said she has to tell him, "Henry, I LOVE your voice, but now is not the time to sing" HA! I know exactly what she means! I have to do the same thing! He will sing questions he has for me, stories he wants to tell, along with just general singing while he plays. Mom and I took him to The Sound of Music in January. He already knew every word to every song, but to watch him take it all in and sing along was priceless. How many 5 year old boys do you know who would sit for literally 3 hours in total awe at something like that? He noticed every detail and every part that was different than the movie, loved to see all the sets, etc. It was his first big play to attend, too, and it knocked it out of the park! We went to his Grandpa's 70th surprise bday party mid-February, and there were about 30 attendees, many of whom we didn't know. When everyone arrived and there was a big crowd, Henry told Aunt Mae, "I want to sing, but I need introduced!", so she pulled up a chair in the middle of the room and said, "This is Henry Hxxxx, and he wants to sing for you!" and he sang The Hills are Alive in front of everyone! We didn't talk about it before hand or anything-it was so cute and funny and he did a great job! All the ladies came up afterward and just gave him so much attention. Our family will never forget that! We learn a new hymn every month at school and sing it for morning assembly, so those are some of his favorite songs to belt out! Specifically, we hear a lot of "Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted" and "How Deep the Father's Love for Us". Steven was asking him the other day what his favorite kind of music was and gave him some choices like country, rock, rap, and he said, "Hymns!!"...that boy!

I'm just going to have to write down my notes and use them to remember. I could write a book, so I've got to stop!

-Love math, always making up multiplication problems in his head and asks us or figures them out and checks with us when he's figured an answer. When he sees arrays (lights on the ceiling for instance), he always figures out how many there are.
-"Assignment from God" per grandma. He will sit for the longest time with Grandma DeWitt when we've visited. Grandma says they couldn't have paid a therapist to do what he did for her! It is pretty sweet. I wish I could record their conversations.
-"Do you have a craft bone? I do! "....he asked me one day. Hilarious! He still loves art, crafts, all things creative. He's pretty good at it all. I can't draw, so I'm impressed with is sketches.
-Steven was talking to him about compliments one day, and so he asked Henry to give me a compliment. He said, "I like your shiny teeth!" Ha! He is actually a sensitive guy and does give lots of great compliments. He is always noticing my jewelry, nails, etc.and any new clothes.
-He loves packing his bag himself when we go on trips and will count out how many he needs of each item and fold it all up perfectly and pack in his bag.
-"Baby's pinkies are the sweetest things!" he said one day from the backseat. Also, "Open up that neckie-pooh!" when playing tickle game with Ruby. He's very sweet with both sisters, especially baby.
-Does the funniest voices. Southern gentleman, also calls Annie "girl partner!" and says, "yeah girl!" a lot.
-Loves to do hand break with us and have us say, "Hxxxx Family!" together
-Eyelash conversation. Why are mine so long (he really does have beautiful, long eyelashes!)? They get in the way. Mommy, yours are medium like a working girl. Like a worker in a treat shop.
-He knows the truth about santa and doesn't like to play along (even though we try to get him to and try not to let him ruin it for others). I still wanted to visit him and get pictures, but Henry was kinda rude to him! I think he is mad that everyone is getting duped and wants to let everyone know the truth! He asked for a puppy this year, but Santa said he'd have to talk to his parents about that. Not a good way to win him over and make him believe. :)
-He sleeps in his top bunk now. One day I came in, and he had separated all his stuffed animals into mammals vs not mammals. Boy, he has a lot of stuffed animals.
-In the middle of reading Goldilocks as she's trying out all the beds and the middle one is too soft, Henry looked up and me in total disbelief and said, "What could be TOO soft??"
-He got new toothpaste, and I asked him if he liked it. He said, "It's wonderful! It tastes like a spicy cupcake!"
-He helped me assemble homeless bags that we keep in our car. He was out running errands w Steven and got to hand one out. He was so happy.
-100th day of school celebration. He could take 100 of any item and he chose shells.
-We are reading chapter books now-James and the Giant Peach, about 5 different Boxcar Children, The Enormous Egg, school-Mercy Watson, The Little Pilgrim's Progress....there are others, but I haven't done a good job of writing them down!
-Still super sensitive, hates anything suspenseful. We keep it tame with PBS kids and that's about it.

There's so much more, but I must stop. I need to do better about updating periodically so I don't feel so much pressure when I try to do something like this! Below are a few pics of the boy. We sure do love you, Hankford. Thanks for being such a sweet guy.

The Sound of Music

The morning of the play we realized he has an authentic German lederhosen and hat that we brought back from Germany several years ago, so we asked if he wanted to wear it, and he was totally in! You can imagine the attention he got over it. He was a spectacle, and he ate it up!

A little pre-celebration in Nashville with family. Aunt Mae brought him a cake-she always calls him by first and last name. She was Heather Hough growing up, so they have the H alliteration in common!

Opening gifts on his birthday-he got a check from grandparents, and he was thrilled!! We normally take their money and purchase something for him from them (per their request), but he's been wanting to have his own money lately and buy things he sees at the store, so he was thrilled to be able to get the actual dough this year!


Week 4

Week 4 was amazing! The shiplap went up, the entryway was tiled, the hardwood flooring went down, the lighting went in, and the electricity was turned back on! We also got to remove the plastic in the LR and could finally be in there again! The is the kind of progress I appreciate! :)
We were originally going to do the shiplap ourselves to save some money. Steven and his dad had planned to tackle the project once the kitchen was done, but when Lorenzo said if we'd buy it he'd put it up, who were we to argue? This way he could do all the molding around it and paint it, too. We were going to buy the boards and cut them ourselves when it was our DYI project, but when things accelerated and he was ready for them, Steven decided it would be worth it juts to go to Home Depot and purchase what we needed. So stress free that it was worth the extra dough. We see that now!

Walking in and seeing this was thrilling!! I immediately loved the look of it and I was pumped to see the finished product! It just brightens everything up and adds that extra charm I'm wanting.

This was going on simultaneously....also thrilling!! Getting that old tile out of there was like a breath of fresh air!

We played around with a lot of ideas for the tile and went (what felt like) everywhere to check out our options. We toyed around quite a bit with the idea of brick in there, but ended up going with an easy, cheap option we found at Supply Warehouse (of all places!). The grout is Silverado-a very light gray that we will also use for the back splash. Steven and I agreed on this tile, and we were just crossing our fingers that it would actually look ok once down. We were both really happy with the finished product!!

Final touches on the shiplap.
And here it is later in the week getting the first coat of paint! You can see the top right triangle is the primed portion and the rest has had one coat of paint.

And the excitement is the hardwood going down!! For the entire planning process we had decided to replace the tile in the kitchen with more tile. It was in the estimate that way and everything. But when looking for tile, we just couldn't find anything we thought would look right for what we wanted. So many of the ones I actually liked for the color pallet we were going with have a modern look that I was afraid I would dislike overtime and just didn't have the warmth or homey feel I wanted. My first choice was to continue the hardwood into the kitchen for a more seamless look, but I was afraid of putting wood in the kitchen (possible water damage??) and Steven also didn't think anything we could fine new would match the 30 year old hardwoods that are in the living room and dining room, so we ruled that option out from the get go.

But when the tile didn't pull together, we revisited the idea of hardwood. I asked several friends plus my mom about their kitchen hardwoods and got all positive feedback, so I decided to lay my worries of damage and durability to rest. Our hardwood is very basic, so it was easy to find at the big box stores-Gunstock at $3.99 per sq. ft.

But we were looking around and Southeastern Salvage and saw that they carried the exact flooring for a huge price cut-$2.49 per sq ft! So we talked to the guys and brought a sample home to compare. It seemed to match perfectly with what we have down already (well I say perfectly-the old stuff is in serious need of rejuvenation which we are going to play around with after the project is over). The cheaper wood is that way because it is seconds, but the guys assured us that this would not be a problem, and they were right. It looks great!

So shiny and new! You can see the difference between the old and then new here, but I honestly don't mind and really love that the hardwood is throughout now. This basic hardwood is hard to beat in my opinion. There are so many engineered hardwoods, tiles made to look like wood, and wood looking laminates, but they are all trying to imitate the original. It is hard to beat this classic look, and I'm really happy we went with it. So are the kids as you can see! They loved running around in the empty kitchen and sliding around on the beautiful floors.

Here you can see the recessed lighting on. I love it! There are 10 in all...switches turn 4 on in the dinette and 6 on in the kitchen. This was also a decision that progressed over time. We originally thought we might leave the lights we had and just add some recessed lighting. We also almost added pendent type lighting to the space above where the bar will be. But in the end, I wanted to seamless, sleek look of recessed lighting only and felt that it would be plenty bright with these alone. We are really happy with this decision!

Lastly, I just had to take a picture of a spot  that looked DONE! Just the switch plate on the wall gives that finished look and makes me so happy! I get a glimpse of what is to come when it is all wrapped up and complete! I can't wait! But it seems I will have to...the guys left on Friday having wrapped up all they could do. They are at a standstill until our cabinetry is ready. They have been ordered, but we do not know how long it will be until they arrive. And so, we wait.


Kitchen-week 2 & 3

Weeks 2 and 3 kind of blended together. There was a lot of electric/plumbing work going on. There wasn't anything "pretty" happening, so I was ready for this phase to be over! But it was all the really important stuff that can't be skipped, that's for sure! It seemed to drag out a bit, too, because we lost 2 days due to weather and another day b/c the lead contractor had truck trouble one day. BUT, you can see here that the header was added. Also, the wall was ready to come down-it was only the flimsy drywall between the 2 rooms at this point-I was itching so see it down!! But I realized they were keeping it up as long as possible to contain the dust, so I would have to wait a little longer.

Lots of work was done inside the walls...drywall was cut away and electric was pulled out and re-wired.

Here you can see the beams supporting the wall while the header was going in.

We ran into a bit of a hiccup-as they were working on the wall they realized the floors had a slope/dip in them because the beams holding up the were positioned in between the joists rather than on them. This explained our uneven flooring in there. They went under the house and built supports to correct the problem and to ensure the new flooring would lay correctly. He said adding this might mess up the current hardwood in the LR, but luckily it did not!

Drywall down and plumbing/electrical work happening.

And lines on the ceiling for our recessed lighting that will be added. I'm excited about this!

We originally asked them to put our old cabinetry in the garage thinking that we would save it and use at least some of it in the second garage for storage/organization. After it sat for a few days, though, our thoughts changed as we realized we wouldn't be able to do this any time soon and they were awfully big things to just have laying around. So, we decided to donate the cabinetry, faucet, and sink to Habitat. Goodbye cabinets!

Ta-da!! Finally the wall was cut away in the 3rd week and we could at least envision the look we were going for. I loved it immediately!

Here you can see all the circles are cut for the recessed lighting-whoohoo!!
 Here is the header up, wall down, drywall back in place, and on the half wall you can see plumbing for the sink and dishwasher in place. This was taken on 3/29.
We left that afternoon to head to TN for Easter weekend, and we stopped by Steven's dad's place first and checked out his new woodworking shop he just had put in their backyard.  He has been working on a table for us, and we got to see it in person. We love it! We asked him to make benches so that they can slide under and hopefully save us some space. He also showed us a few of the stain mix options we had suggested. Seeing them in real life was helpful so we were able to pick what we wanted it to look like. The tops will be a gray and brown stain mix and the legs will be white. I'm excited to see it in the dinette once he finishes. So nice to have a retired handyman in the family!:)


Kitchen-week 1

 Week 1-We left for Iowa on Spring Break on Sunday and demo started on Tuesday. We didn't really want to leave and not be able to oversee everything happening at the house, but at the same time we didn't really want to stay and have 3 kids in the middle of demo either! It ended up working out just fine, but we were curious the whole time about what was going on at the house, so when we got the picture above from Pavy, we were thrilled!! The tile was gone! Cabinetry gone! There was lots of work being done in our absence. Whoohoo!
When we returned, this is what the living room looked like. Dust everywhere!

I don't know WHY it didn't dawn on me that the living room would be off limits too, but it just didn't! I had envisioned no kitchen, but not no living room, too!! YIKES! In addition to everything being covered in plastic and the floor being covered with dust, there was no electricity in there (duh!). Some of the outlets and the closet in Henry's room are w/o electricity, too. SO, we have been confined to the bedrooms and playroom, but I can honestly say that so far it has worked better than I could have hoped. The kids really do great. They just want to be where we are, anyway, so everyone is happy all huddled together on one side of the house-ha!

Both doorways from the kitchen were taped off with plastic. They were constantly shop vaccing the LR to clean up the dust. Much appreciated!

This is what the inside of kitchen looked like when we returned!

This is the wall that will partially come down.

Everyday after school we come in and check out what they progress they are making. Henry is a curious little guy and very interested in their work. Next up was all the electric and plumbing (week 2). More on that to come!



We bought our current house in December 2014. We didn't have to move, but always knew that our wonderful house on Chesapeake Blvd, which we lived in for over 7 years, wouldn't be our "forever" house. So, we had fun searching for other homes via the Internet and driving by neighborhoods for several years-even meeting with realtors for several tours of ones we thought we were interested in and then even making an offer on one that didn't work out.
We had some things on our list for our new home that were negotiable and some things that weren't. So when we found our current house in October, it fit enough of our non-negotiables that we were willing to make a voluntary move.

Some of these items were the lot (large-1.5 acres and flat-ours backs up to woods rather than other houses), pool (which it had!) or spot for a pool (I grew up with a pool in the backyard, so my hot, Southern yard just feels lacking without one), location (close enough to both of our jobs that we could commute without frustration. We don't mind driving a bit, but the traffic is where we struggle, so being able to hop on the interstate and MOVE rather than just sitting still on poorly laid out back roads was our goal), storage (there's a 2 car exterior garage with storage above), natural light (lots of windows and even 2 skylights which I love!), and size (4 bedrooms which we thought would be enough for our family plus a guest room, but we had a surprise baby since then that will eventually get that 4th room, so I guess it worked out either way!). I also didn't want anything too big that I couldn't keep clean, so our square footage is pretty much exactly what we had before (2,000 sq ft). I didn't know it at the time because I've always lived in 2 story houses, but a huge bonus (in my opinion), is to have a 1 story house-who knew!? I LOVE all the rooms being accessible and it is just so much easier for me to clean and keep straight (even though the sq footage is the same, for some reason the layout just lends itself to more ease for me in these areas). So that has been so awesome and an added surprise.

The main things I felt I was negotiating on were exterior aesthetics (the yard is beautiful and exactly what we wanted, but the single story ranch style just isn't real pretty in my opinion), the kitchen and bathrooms (more on these later!), having only a laundry closet rather than an actual room (which has worked out fine since the closet is right beside the kids bathroom and bedrooms, I have only a few steps to gather/deliver everything anyway! And the guest bedroom is right there, so that is my folding room!), and the interior aesthetics (our other house was really cute and had a lot of charm that this one doesn't (yet!!) have...the previous owner at our other house was a really handy guy who had added so many things to the house to give it the charm that this one is missing...BUT I was excited to eventually add some of that charm back in myself!). I was more than willing to temporarily give these things up, but wanted hubby to know that these were things that I WOULD want to upgrade if we went with this house. We both agreed that we would start saving, planning, and scheming to do some of the facelifts as soon as we were able to after purchasing the house. And while it does require patience, it is also fun to plan and pick what we want. AND the cool thing about living in a house for over 3 years before getting to do anything to it is that now we really know what we want for changes!

Don't get me wrong, when we moved in, we did a ton! The couple before us built this house and it is almost 30 years old, so it was certainly dated! We replaced every light fixture, added recessed lighting, replaced the interior hinges/doorknobs and every vent cover, painted every room, had the ceilings scraped prior to moving in, removed wallpaper, removed a mirrored wall in the dining room (yes! ha!), and so much more that I can't even remember! Someday I will blog on that bc I know we took pictures along the way! But the first major thing we wanted to tackle was our kitchen (a biggie!!).

Below are a few pictures of the kitchen prior to us moving in.You can see the terrible 80's beach house tile that shows EVERYTHING. I am SO, SO excited to replace that. At first, we thought we would be happy just to give this kitchen a facelift (paint cabinetry white, get new flooring/granite counter tops and do most of the work ourselves just like we did in our old house). BUT after using this kitchen for several years, I began to really dislike the layout. I thought the butterfly corner sink would be great, but quickly grew to hate the bottleneck it created between the trashcan and the dishwasher. I couldn't open the door to the trashcan while the dishwasher lid was down, so we would just make a trash pile beside the sink while I was doing dishes and throw it all away once I was done-gross and inconvenient! Being unable to get to that spot easily also meant that the giant cabinet under the sink is not really used like it should be. I wasn't putting much in it because I couldn't easily get it out! And it's huge under there!
Another issue with it is that while loading the dishwasher, there is only a tiny spot to stand to do the dishes, and in reality it only allows for a small portion of the sink to be accessible (like 1/4th of it). In addition, the corner sink means my back is always to everybody, which I hate! I really wanted a  more open feel to the kitchen so that I could be part of what was happening in the living room and not have to turn the sink off and yell back and forth at each other from the kitchen to the LR.
The third thing I struggled with was the spot right at the fridge and the bar. This is such a high traffic area, and with the fridge door open, no one could get through. I despise this! People just tend to stand right there in front of the fridge, too, so we were always having to squeeze past or ask people to was just a very inefficient spot. But I loved the bar and didn't want to loose that! 

SOOOO....I began slowly presenting my ideas to Steven, who is a major planner and does not generally like change. But I am the dreamer, and he is the realist, so I really appreciate him because without him none of this would actually get done, and it would all just be a dream in my head. It took a LONG time, but he slowly warmed up to the ideas. I wanted to switch the location of the sink and the dishwasher and take down (partially) the wall that separates the kitchen and the LR. A big, lengthy, pricey endeavor that we didn't even know was possible! I also wanted the current bar completely gone and for a counter top to extend into the living room for the bar area to be there instead of right beside the fridge.
We met with AB in June at our house and they determined that the wall could come down, but would have to have a header because it was load bearing. Not the exact look we wanted, and a little more money, but still much better than a closed off wall. If we were going to loose that wall, we would have to put additional cabinetry in the dinette to make up for it. So, we came up with a design for that as well.
 We pretty much kept the kitchen like you see it above except that the ceilings were scraped, the door that separates the dining room and the kitchen came down. We painted, put new bar stools in and replaced the fan with some cute schoolhouse lighting. But for the most part it stayed the way you see it above.

Finally, on March 13, our kitchen renovation began! Almost a year ago we started talking to AB Stone about our ideas. We had some other folks come out, too, but eventually decided to go with AB. We met with them several times and they drew up our plans, we tweaked them over and over, and eventually decided we would be able to start in the Spring of this year. The project is supposed to take 4-6 weeks, barring no complications. The weekend prior to them doing demo, we cleaned everything out and Ben helped Steven remove appliances. Where does all the stuff come from!?!? Geez! Our cabinets were packed. But we were excited and nervous to get started.
Goodbye dishwasher!! This one is old and does not work well, so I am pumped to get an upgrade! You can see Henry is right in it...he is excited to see everything coming together.

I boxed up a bunch of stuff for the garage, but also loaded our dining room table with some of the kitchen junk and covered it with plastic.

Goodbye, stove! Same story as the dishwasher...can't wait for an upgrade! From here you can see some of the lighting Steven put in when we  moved in.

We removed the microwave and put it temporarily in our bedroom as part of our make-shift kitchen.
I moved all of our food into the bedroom and bought paper products for the meals we would eat at home. We knew we would be eating out or eating simply for the most part.

Below is the kitchen all cleaned out and ready for demolition! 

Above is the dinette. There will be a built in cabinet to the right for extra storage and Steven's dad is building us a rectangular table with benches that can be slid under to hopefully save on some space. Until now we have had a vintage square metal table in the center, but now that we are a family of 5 that table doesn't fit our  needs anymore!

And this is our make-shift bedroom kitchen! Nothing like waking up to a highchair, crockpot, and table to one side of you...

And a fridge and microwave on the other side of you! Midnight snack anyone?! Ha, ha! It's fine. Just kinda crazy. I emptied our armoire and filled it with our food for a temporary cupboard. It works.

And here are the kids eating breakfast on our bedroom floor the next morning....they think it is great and an adventure! The first few weeks we had crummy weather, but now the weather is really nice and we can eat outside and just play after naps.  There is MUCH MORE to come.....stay tuned for updates as we renovate our kitchen! Whoohoo!