Category Archives: Uncategorized

Day 5: Family Bike Ride

31 days to a closer family

Well It’s October and we reached 90 here in Virginia today. It actually got too hot for a while this afternoon, but luckily it cooled off nicely for this evening. In fact with a temp around 80 and a light breeze it was the perfect night for a family bike ride. I don’t know what it is about riding a bike that makes me feel so relaxed and carefree, but I’ll take that any time I can get it.  Cody and I used to go on long bike rides all the time, but that was pre-kids. Since then we’ve been in that awkward stage where one kid just really isn’t big enough to go, so one parent always has to stay behind. But all that is changing now! Sophie got a bike for her 4th birthday thereby freeing up the toddler carrier on Cody’s bike for Lizzie. This was actually our first real attempt to teach Sophie how to ride. She’s had the bike for about 3 weeks; however, we couldn’t locate her helmet so we wouldn’t let her ride it anywhere but the backyard. We finally located her helmet today, so we were off on an adventure!

First up was making sure that Princess Wolfie Pie was properly secured in her bike seat. Sophie is ever so safety conscious.

bike ride

Next, I tried to help her get on her bike, but she threw a fit and insisted she could do it herself. She surprised me by doing just that. I opted not ride tonight, so that I could help Sophie out. Every once in a while she needs a little boost to get going and she constantly needed reminders to look up and not at her feet. Overall she did awesome and even more was that she was having so much fun doing it! She took instruction really well and never got upset when we gave her advice. She did take one little fall that resulted in some crying, but after I stood her back up she insisted on getting right back on her bike and was laughing again within seconds. Such a proud Mama!

bike ride

Lizzie seemed to be having a good time too just chilling behind Daddy. I don’t feel like she got that much quality time; however, since we were both focused on teaching Sophie.  When we got done with the bike ride Lizzie ran right over to Sophie’s bike, so I put her up on it and pushed her around our yard for a few minutes and boy did her little face light up like a firecracker. Because it was such a beautiful evening here we did get some extra playing in the yard time before dinner where Lizzie was able to wheedle out a little more quality time of her own with Daddy.

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Your turn: How do your children respond to your instruction? Does it result in quality family time or utter melt downs?

Check out the 31 Days to a Closer Family archives!

 

Get Inspired Weekend Pinning Party #10

Here we go! Week #10… and it’s time to link up your fabulous pins!!

Get Inspired Pinterest Link Party

 

Here’s the rundown…

  1. You can link-up ANY pins that you’d like with the exception of Giveaways.
  2. This hop will now be featured on 6 blogs! We have 3 WEEKLY co-host spots and YOU could be next weeks co-host!
  3. The weekly co-hosts will be selecting the FEATURED PINS at each week’s party.
  4. Every week, each FEATURED PINNER will be given the option to co-host the FOLLOWING week’s party! 🙂

Our Featured PIN”s will be a REQUIRED re-pin in order to link-up the following week! That means, if you are Featured, and we have 60 link-up’s that weekend, your PIN will be RE-PINNED 66 times including the hosts & co-hosts. The number of times your Featured Pin will get re-pinned depends on the amount of link-ups we have that week.

Yes, we’re making it MORE FUN to Link-up with us 🙂

Continue reading Get Inspired Weekend Pinning Party #10

Day 1: Scheduling Family Time

 

31 days to a closer family

Deciding what to do……

Here we are. Day 1 of the 31 Days to a Closer family challenge. In order to set myself up for success for this challenge I decided we would need a plan. Those of you who know me are probably chuckling because you know I have a plan and a back-up plan pretty much for everything in my life. When I first ran this challenge by Cody we started brainstorming ideas for things we could all do together that would result in quality family time. We came up with a long list of things including family bike rides, hikes, pumpkin picking, and coloring nights. We had to keep reminding ourselves that the point of the challenge was not to do things with our kids but to spend time with them, so we intentionally tried to come up with things that were easy, free, and uncomplicated, so we could enjoy the time with our kids rather then spend all the time trying to set something up. If you have older children I would also suggest asking them for ideas (that way they’ll be more likely to participate). I thought I’d give my own advice a try, so I asked Sophie “if you could do anything with Mommy and Daddy what would you want to do?” Her response “buy things.” Sigh….. Well if your children are over 4 you may get more appropriate responses. We did try to include items on our list that we thought would interest them the most (like a gymnastics night, tea parties, and a princess dress-up night).

Making a schedule……

After we had complied a pretty decent list of things we thought would create quality family time together, I decided that we better create a schedule. Making a schedule to spend time together really grated on me. It’s kind of like when experts tell you to schedule sex with you partner. It just feels like something that shouldn’t have to be put on a calendar. But to be fair we haven’t been doing a very good job of making sure it (family time, not sex) was happening with out a schedule. Also, some of the activities require a little bit of pre-planning in order for them to be as stress free as possible, so I opened up my handy dandy Microsoft calendar and started inputting family time activities.

You can click on the image below to make it bigger.

31 days calander

I’m completely aware that our chances of actually sticking to this schedule are slim to none, especially considering that some of them are weather dependent. But you’ll remember that the goal of this challenge is not to do as the calendar says, but to spend time together, so if some of these get switched around or deleted completely that is perfectly alright. This is just a blueprint for the next month. I’m also curious to see which of these activities the family likes the best and which ones bring us closer. Let the challenge begin………

So tell me, what activities does your family like to do together? Which ones make you feel the closest?

Get Inspired with us Pinning Party Week #9

Here we go! Week #9… and it’s time to link up your fabulous pins!!

Get Inspired Pinterest Link Party

 

Here’s the rundown…

  1. You can link-up ANY pins that you’d like with the exception of Giveaways.
  2. This hop will now be featured on 6 blogs! We have 3 WEEKLY co-host spots and YOU could be next weeks co-host!
  3. The weekly co-hosts will be selecting the FEATURED PINS at each week’s party.
  4. Every week, each FEATURED PINNER will be given the option to co-host the FOLLOWING week’s party! 🙂

Our Featured PIN”s will be a REQUIRED re-pin in order to link-up the following week! That means, if you are Featured, and we have 60 link-up’s that weekend, your PIN will be RE-PINNED 66 times including the hosts & co-hosts. The number of times your Featured Pin will get re-pinned depends on the amount of link-ups we have that week.

Yes, we’re making it MORE FUN to Link-up with us 🙂

Continue reading Get Inspired with us Pinning Party Week #9

Fixing up the exterior aka our house no longer looks abandoned

We’ve been busy plugging away at the interior of the house, especially the kitchen (more on that later this week), but we had some maintenance issues on the exterior to take care of too. We found out from our new neighbors that the house had been sitting empty for nearly two years, so you can imagine the neglect. And if your imagination isn’t working today then see the image below. Besides the obviously “if we don’t fix this now it will only get worse”, after only a week of living here I was already tired of being the ugly house of the block, so we got to work fixing up the most important defects.

exterior maintenance

Re-hanging the gutters took most of last Sunday with Cody holding a heavy drill over his head while balancing on a way too tall ladder. Luckily his Dad came over to help support the ladder. Fixing the bay window that leaked into the dining room onto our brand new floors took the rest of the day.  The roof shingles had to be pulled out and new flashing installed underneath. Luckily both of those were pretty cheap fixes. Our biggest fix, and the one most dear to my heart, was replacing the missing pediment above the front door. According to our neighbor, the last homeowner took it down while in the process of renovations that ended in a foreclosure. We ordered the new pediment from Architectural Depot the day we closed on the house. And now a word on my experience with this company………

I ordered from Architectural Depot because they had the product I wanted in-stock (as I found not an easy feat). It’s the combination peaked cap pediment. The list price is $133 and shipping was $50. That was their first strike. I get that it’s a large item, but I find it really annoying when the shipping is so high and I don’t find out until checkout.  It was supposed to ship in about a week and half. After 2 weeks and no package I receive an e-mail from the company asking me to take a survey on my experience with my order. I promptly let them know that I had not received my order. When I checked with Fedex it was marked as “damaged, returned to sender”. When I heard back from the company it was to tell me that the package had been delivered and signed for and that I should check around the house again. Strike 2. I forwarded them the Fedex confirmation showing that the package had indeed been delivered and signed for AT THEIR WAREHOUSE! I had to send two more e-mails before they responded to let me know that it was being re-shipped. No offer of a discount. No offer to expedite the shipping the second time. Strike 3. All in all it took me about a month to get the pediment. Honestly, I’m pretty easy to please. I don’t even expect companies to go above and beyond, but I do expect them to know where my purchase is and I do expect excellent customer service when I have a complaint. I will think twice before purchasing from them again. Oh, but the pediment itself is great and was easy to install.

Now, back to the install. There was no siding behind the old pediment, just some type of tin foil looking insulation, so Cody decided to install plywood to have something to attach the new pediment to. He attached the pediment with polyurethane adhesive (as recommended), but also threw in some screws to make sure it was really secure. The screws with be filled in and painted over….eventually.

installing a pediment

Once the pediment was up, he sealed around the edges with polyurethane sealant to make sure no water leaked in behind it.

 

And suddenly our house looks a little less sad! You can also see that I started on the gardens below the bay windows by spraying them with Round-up. Usually I shy away from herbicides, but the crab grass was out of control and it’s still really hot here (I mean too hot for me to get my butt outside into the mosquito infested garden to weed). My plan is to let it all die off and start pulling it out in the fall.

new pediment

 Still do to do: Paint all the trim including the pediment a bright white, paint the faded shutters a slate blue, and plant some new plants in the newly reinvented gardens. Oh and do you remember the mail box? No? That’s because it’s so embarrassing I probably didn’t show you a picture of it before.

mailbox before

The mailbox is not high on my priority list right now, what with the kitchen having no counter tops and all, but due to its lack of functionality (oh hello wet mail) it has got bumped up the list. On the plus side at least the sharpie’d house numbers match the handwritten ones on our door.

Get Inspired Weekend Pinning Party


Guess what friends, Week #6 into the Get Inspired Hop and we have been pinning so many of your awesome projects, recipes and tutorials that we just decided it should be RE-BRANDED as a Pinning Party!!

Get Inspired Pinterest Link Party

And NOW our Featured PIN”s will be a REQUIRED re-pin in order to link-up the following week! That means, if you are Featured, and we have 60 link-up’s that weekend, your PIN will be RE-PINNED 66 times including the hosts & co-hosts.

 

LOTS AND LOTS of exposure for your blog. What do you all think about that?

 

Here’s more on what’s changing!

  1. You can now link-up ANY pin that you’d like with the exception of Giveaways.
  2. This hop will now be featured on 6 blogs!
    We have added 3 WEEKLY co-host spots. <—WOW 😀
  3. The weekly co-hosts will be selecting the FEATURED PINS at each week’s party.
  4. Every week, each FEATURED PINNER will be given the option to co-host the FOLLOWING week’s party! 🙂

Yes, we’re making it MORE FUN to Link-up with us 🙂

Continue reading Get Inspired Weekend Pinning Party

Get Inspired Weekend Blog Hop #5

blog hop

My favorites from Week #4.

blog hop 4 1.DIY canister re-style from This Silly Girl‘s Life

2. Jicama Yogurt Fruit Salad from At the Fire Hydrant

3. Bird house wind chime from We Made That

Congratulations on being featured. Now don’t forget to grab your featured button! Also, don’t forget to check out the other hosts to see who they featured!

Get Inspired Weekend Blog Hop Featured Post

The Party goes live every Friday night at 5PM CST and runs through the weekend.

Your projects will be featured on 4 blogs! This one and……

Mommy Mentionables

Southern Mess Moms

Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen

Please play by the rules:

  • Link-up any of your DIY projects, recipes, or articles as long as it’s something you personally made or wrote.
  • Keep the content fresh by not linking up the same posts each weekend.
  • Giveaway posts are not allowed.
  • After you link-up spread the love by visiting a few posts and leaving a comment.
  • By linking to the blog hop you are giving me permission to feature your post.
  • By linking-up you are giving me permission to use your photo as a featured link.
  • By entering your e-mail address you are agreeing to get updates about this blog hop; however, you can unsubscribe at anytime and still participate.
  • Enjoy, have fun, and spread the word!

Each host will be featuring their favorite link-ups before the next hop. In order to be featured you must link to this page with either a text link or by grabbing the button below. Only blogs that link back will be featured!

Get Inspired Weekend Blog Hop Featured Post

The link-up goes live at 5PM CST!


Get Inspired Weekend Blog Hop #4

blog hop

My favorites from Week #4.

blog #4 collage 1.Icecream and Pear Parfait from My Love for Words.

2. Free Rustic Chalkboard Inspired Pantry Label printables from New Mama Diaries

3. DIY Pink and Blue nautical party from Girl Wife Mom.

Congratulations on being featured. Now don’t forget to grab your featured button! Also, don’t forget to check out the other hosts to see who they featured!

Get Inspired Weekend Blog Hop Featured Post

The Party goes live every Friday night at 5PM CST and runs through the weekend.

Your projects will be featured on 4 blogs! This one and……

Mommy Mentionables

Southern Mess Moms

Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen

Please play by the rules:

  • Link-up any of your DIY projects, recipes, or articles as long as it’s something you personally made or wrote.
  • Keep the content fresh by not linking up the same posts each weekend.
  • Giveaway posts are not allowed.
  • After you link-up spread the love by visiting a few posts and leaving a comment.
  • By linking to the blog hop you are giving me permission to feature your post.
  • By linking-up you are giving me permission to use your photo as a featured link.
  • By entering your e-mail address you are agreeing to get updates about this blog hop; however, you can unsubscribe at anytime and still participate.
  • Enjoy, have fun, and spread the word!

Each host will be featuring their favorite link-ups before the next hop. In order to be featured you must link to this page with either a text link or by grabbing the button below. Only blogs that link back will be featured!

Simply Swider

The link-up goes live at 5PM CST!

The New House

Disclaimer: Some of you may be thinking “wait is this another new house?” No, we only bought 1 new house; however, we did have a contract on another that we wound up pulling out of at the last minute. Unfortunately, I had already written up the post about that house and had it scheduled to publish which I then forgot about…my bad. But I promise this is our actual house that we will be living in now.

Well, the day I never thought would arrive has finally happened. We bought a new house! We had only planned on staying in our first house for about 5 years and we were going on 6 1/2, but we had a couple of specific reasons why we moved.

  1.  We wanted a larger house that had a playroom for the kids.
  2. We wanted to be closer to our family.
  3. We needed to be in a better school zone before Sophie starts school next year.
  4. We were done renovating our first house and were bored.

I’ll admit that this all happened really fast. In less than a week we had looked at this house, made an offer, rented out our first house, and were under contract. Then we backed out the contract the week we were suppose to close because of the bank trying to force us to get a renovation mortgage, which we didn’t want. So after a very stressful month we found ourselves homeless (well we were living with my mom). Luckily we put in offer in on another house we liked even better the very next day and 2 days later they accepted our offer. Oh, and we don’t have to worry about being bored for a while. This house is definitely a fixer-upper, but it is in our dream neighborhood and we got it for about 20% less than the going rate in the neighborhood , so we have plenty of room to make it our own.

Well, without further ado, here is a quick tour of our new house along with the plans for the renovation. The house is 2700 sq feet with 4 bedrooms, 2 full baths, 2 half baths, and a room over the garage.

Exterior

exterior

 

  • Paint Trim white and re-coat the shutters
  • Install new windows
  • Build a portico over the front steps like this.
  • Install a retaining wall around garden similar to this one.
  • Get rid of the weeds and grow grass
  • Add new landscaping
  • Eventually we’d like to re-do the whole exterior to more like this.

Foyer

Foyer

  • Install laminate floors
  • Re-finish stair treads and banister like this.
  • Install wainscoting such as this.
  • Beef up moldings around the doors
  • Paint
  • Get a new light fixture

Office

Office

  • Paint walls and trim
  • Install laminate floors
  • Build built-in bookcase along one wall like this one.

Dining Room

Dining Room

  • Install laminate floors
  • Paint walls
  • Buy dining room furniture

Family Room

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  • Remove wall between kitchen and family room
  • Paint beams white Family Room
  • Remove paneling and install drywall.
  • Paint walls and trim
  • Install wainscoting along left wall like this room.
  • Paint built-ins and fireplace surround white.
  • Beef up the area above the fireplace like this.
  • Install pot lights and a new fan
  • Install laminate floors
  • Buy new furniture and decorate room like this.

Kitchen

Kitchen

  • Build a banquet for the bay window similar to this one.
  • Remove desk and install beverage center with fridges similar to this.
  • Replace all cabinets, counter tops, and appliances so it looks more like this kitchen.
  • Install laminate floor.
  • Paint walls.
  • Install new light fixtures from Barn Light Electric.
  • Install new tile back splash.
  • Make room look like our mood board.

Half bath

Half bath

  • Replace vanity and mirror
  • Install tile floor
  • Stencil walls with something bold.

 

Playroom

Play room

  • Paint Build-ins white
  • Paint walls and add a mural like this one.

 

Master Bedroom

Master bedroom

  • Paint walls
  • Install a ceiling fan
  • Add crown molding
  • Build a new headboard

Master Bathroom

Master Bath

  • Build barn door to cover entrance like this.
  • Replace vanity with a double sink like this one (will be painted until then)
  • Open wall between vanity and bathroom and build a custom glass shower.
  • Install tile.

Guest Room

Guest room

  • Paint walls
  • Buy guest room furniture

Sophie’s Room

Sophie's Room

  • Paint walls Fairytale Pink and trim white
  • Install fan
  • Replace door knob

Lizzie’s room

Lizzie's Room

  • Install fan
  • Paint walls
  •  Replace door knob

Guest Bath

Giest Bath

  • Replace vanity, mirrors, and hardware.
  • Sophie would like it to look like this.

Backyard

  • Back yard Grow grass
  • Replace fence
  • Install an in-ground pool and patio
  • Landscape
  • Fix AC units that are not currently working and find a way to hide them

Screened Porch

Screend Porch

  • Paint posts and railings white so it looks like this.
  • Replace the fan and screens
  • Buy a new screen door.
  • Paint the concrete floor.

Photography Workshop Results

I have owned a digital SLR camera for almost 4 years now, and I still don’t really know how to use it. Well, I mean I take all the nice pictures on this blog with it, but I do it all on auto and often the colors don’t come out right or the rooms seem like they have no depth. This weekend I decided to rectify my lack of photography skills by taking the Beginnings Workshop at Warthan Farms Photography. You are probably more familiar with Jennifer Warthan than you think because she is the wonderful photographer who took all the family pictures on my about me page (go check it out if you haven’t).

The class focused on all the fundamentals of how to use your camera as well as how to get the proper exposure. I’m really excited to put all my new skills to use photographing the new house, so be on the look out for better interior shots. Until then, please sit back and enjoy the photos of our wonderful models from the workshop.

Pssst…I’m still not claiming to be a great photographer, and I’m still working on using a manual focus, so go easy on me.

Our first models were these adorable boys and their mom.

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Next up, we had a maternity shoot with what has to be the most beautiful pregnant woman ever.

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Maybe if I can get my kids to stay still for a second I might be able to use my new found skills to get a great shot of them. Jennifer also offers an Editing Workshop that I’m dying to take since I know absolutely nothing about Photoshop and for those more serious photogs out their Jennifer offers weekend retreats and private mentoring sessions!