Grass & Gallery Walls

This weekend, we inadvertently had another weekend sans children (my mom asked to have Knox Friday night, then Brody ended up going over to Trevor’s parents’ house, too… and they didn’t come home until Sunday) so we got a lot done around the house with all of that solitude while missing our boys!

Trevor’s main project this weekend was seeding the yard. We opted to use grass seed instead of sod because sod is insanely expensive. Apparently it was a late harvest this year, so demand is up, and you know how that goes. It would have been about $2k to sod the area we needed, so instead, we spent $130 on centipede grass seed! It was a lot more labor intensive and required a lot of time on the tractor and with a metal rake, but Trevor got it done. That poor man is sunburnt like crazy! Trevor’s Pop lives next door and has an old blue tractor that he lets us borrow for this kind of thing, and nothing thrills Brody more than watching it drive around the yard. He got to watch for a while Friday before he left for his grandparents’ house.

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As of this morning, the first shoots of  grass are peeking through, so we are hopeful that by the end of summer, we’ll have some semblance of a grassy yard!

As for me, I did not partake in the grass planting. Instead, I decided to clean the house like a crazy person- we cleaned a lot of things before we moved in and spot cleaned a lot, but it was in need of a thorough deep clean. So, I spent around four hours Saturday morning doing floors, scrubbing bathrooms and sweating myself senseless. The good news is that the house is all kinds of clean! After that, I knew I needed to tackle the pile of pictures in our dining room.

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I hung a few up in our entry way the weekend prior, but I still needed something else.

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I found some adorable chalkboard pins at Kohl’s on sale for $5 for a box of eight- I strung some twine between some nails and used chalk to write “It is Well” (my favorite hymn) on them. I love how it turned out!

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The biggest project was the gallery wall I wanted to create in our hallway. Gallery walls look awesome, but they are an undertaking to hang up!! First, I started out by spreading out everything on our living room rug and trying to figure out my layout. It took FOREVER.

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Once I decided, I got my ladder, nails and hammer and started by working my way from the middle outward- all the while, I referred to the original layout which I had taken a picture of on my phone. Of course, I ended up adjusting the edges as I went, as my original design was too wide, but we are super happy with how it turned out. This gallery houses lots of special pictures for us, and I love to just stand and stare at it.IMG_4361 copy

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Here are some detail shots- we love the boys wearing Trevor’s fire helmet:2014-06-14 20.41.01

I made this one in Photoshop after seeing some similar things on Pinterest-

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What did you guys do this weekend? Do you love gallery walls, too? I am a little obsessed!

Playroom Beginnings

Now that we’ve moved into the house, my plan is to take you space-by-space through our little abode to show you how things look right now. Then, over time as we decorate and adjust the spaces, I will give you updates- sounds good, yes? First up, the playroom. Why first? Because when you walk into our house, this is the first room you see if you glance to the right. This is mildly terrifying, seeing as how my children are tiny destroyers of things. However, I figure- hey, this is a playroom, it’s allowed to be a mess. Mostly… because my OCD can only handle so much!

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Right now, we unpacked toys (we donated two large moving boxes full- yay!) and threw them into our bookshelves and cubby holes. We had this organizing system in our old house, but the bench sat underneath a single window- obviously, our windows are crazy big, so that wouldn’t work. Instead, we removed the cushion and turned the bench into a TV spot. This TV used to be in our bedroom, but we decide to forgo a television in the bedroom when we moved. We are loving that decision so far! So, now, it will be used to play Veggie Tales and Disney movies when we just can’t handle hearing “Let it go” one more time (honestly, that never happens to me, because “Let it go” is my jam).

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We are in desperate need of a rug in this room. I cannot tell you how many times a day I have a mini heart attack when Knox takes the entire basket of metal cars and dumps them out onto the hard floor. The volume level is astounding. I still need to sew my curtains- I have the fabric, which I really like (I dig Paisley… a lot). I wanted something pretty and colorful that wasn’t too kiddish.

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Seeing the fabric and with the grey walls, I would LOVE a lime green shag rug (not fluorescent lime green, but pretty, non-garish lime green), but they’re expensive and we are on a budget. So. I’m holding out for a great find! I am also currently hoarding 25 candle holders and various decorative items on the top of the bookshelves until I can figure out what in the world to do with them. The plan for the wall above the shelves is to display the boys’ artwork in fancy painted frames with burlap backing and clips. Like these but in an assortment of bright colors and various sizes:

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Also, you have to see this:

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Just because he’s so darn cute! I cannot tell you how many times I day he asks me to “Hold this!” aka “Hold me!” I hope he always loves me this much. Also, random side bar- Brody is now sleeping in his own BIG bed! He’s doing awesome, too. This guy has always HATED his crib, so we went ahead and gave up on that idea. So far, so good, though!

So far, it’s just nice to have room for the boys to play and have fun! Lots to do, but we have plenty of time in which to do it. Knowing this is our house for the long haul has given me so much peace when it comes to decorating and getting settled- there is no time table, and it’s very refreshing! So, what’s your latest home project? What room are you focusing on right now?

And we’re here!

Last Friday was our move-in day. We had passed our final inspection but had yet to have our power turned on as of that morning, so we were sweating it (literally) hoping the power company would be out that morning. Happily, they came out first thing and got that taken care of. We did spend the day without air because we were waiting on the HVAC guy to come turn it on himself, and he ended up getting held up at another job. Luckily, we had a random old window unit we were able to use for the night so we didn’t melt! The actual move went very smoothly. Trevor and my brother, Austin, did the heavy lifting and unloaded our storage unit. We went later that night and the next morning to clean our stuff out of Trevor’s parents’ house.

We sent our boys to stay elsewhere (Brody with Trevor’s parents and Knox with mine) for the weekend, and that was the BEST decision ever. We got so much accomplished in a few short days since we were able to to focus totally on unpacking and getting things situated. As of right now, our living room, kitchen and the boys’ rooms are totally functional and unpacked (aside from decorative items). The dining room, study and our room still have a few things left to unpack- the majority residing in our rooms. Apparently, I needed to buy enough towels for the entire world to use, and now I can’t find a place to put them all. We had so much in storage for so long, we have learned we don’t need so much stuff- while unpacking I keep a box handy to fill with donation items. So far, I’ve filled four huge boxes with things to get rid of, which is awesome.

I know you guys really just want to see the pictures (because that’s what you’re telling me on Facebook!), so here they are. And yes, as is the pattern with me, these are very much REAL LIFE pictures. Our junk is everywhere, and nothing is staged or pretty-fied. But you get the idea!

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And the best part of this house? The people that I share it with. So happy to be home!

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More Than a Word

The day Knox received a diagnosis of “Autism” was one of the most memorable days of my life. For months, I had been watching him like a hawk, just knowing that something was off. From the time I was pregnant with him, I worried- something I now credit to God as a gift of some seriously crazy mother’s intuition. I did everything most mothers with children with speech and social delays do: Google until they go crazy. Did he have a speech delay? Did he have Autism? Certainly not Autism, let’s Google “autism-like disorders” 47 times a day, instead of agreeing with the idea that he could be on the spectrum…

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Read the rest of our Autism diagnosis story at “A Mama’s Story” where I am guest blogging today.

10 Lessons Learned From Building a House

Well, after five months of construction, we’ve finally moved into our house. We don’t close until next week, and there are still some small things left on the punch list, but we’re here! This process has been long, at times stressful and was something brand new for us to experience together. I’ve put together a little list of lessons that we’ve learned while going through this process.

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1) Like your contractor. A lot. More than that, be confident in them and trust them. And you better feel comfortable asking hard questions if things go wrong or mistakes are made. Luckily, our contractor was amazing and a friend from church. We trusted him implicitly, and if we had problems, he fixed them. He probably hates us after the past few months, but hey, things happen. That’s a joke, by the way- hopefully he still likes us a little!

2) Do your research BEFOREHAND! Utilize Pinterest and pin the heck out of everything house-related, so that when the time comes, you’re not scrambling to choose fixtures, flooring, paint colors, etc. I made a Pinterest board for everything and got lots of ideas. Then, I narrowed down my list to the things that were realistic for us (lifestyle and budget-wise), so by the time I had to make choices, I was 95 to 100% sure of what I wanted to do. Except for those darn island lights- those suckers took me forever to pick!

3) Be realistic on your move-in date. Go ahead and add a month to whatever you think or are told by your builder. Just do yourself that favor to begin with, and it will be a happier process. If your original date was right, then surprise, life is grand. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment!

4) Take a hard look at your budget. For us, we overestimated “to be safe” and ended up using all of the overage (oops), so we went over by about 15% of our originally intended budget.  If you have a tight budget, set that number to begin with and don’t allow going over. If it’s not there to use, you can’t use it. You don’t want to be house poor or stressed over your mortgage payment (any more than we all normally are, anyway).

5) Decide what YOU (and your spouse) like. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. Don’t feel like you need a big fat island in the kitchen? Don’t build one. Don’t feel that need to make an entire room out of pallet wood? Don’t do it. Do you have crazy, messy little boys? Don’t put super light carpet in your bedrooms. Decide what works for your family’s lifestyle and do that well. You’ll be much happier in the long run.

6) Speak up. When you visit the house and something is wrong, tell your contractor. Especially if subcontractors are being used, communication mishaps happen. Speak now or forever hold your peace! It’s hard sometimes, but I have brought all of these things up to our contractor in favor of being happy in our house for years to come and not being continuously annoyed at that mistake that slipped through.

7) Research and buy online. We saved SO much money by building a truly custom home. Our contractor allowed us to choose all of our fixtures (we didn’t choose from a finish level or preset options like some “custom” builders make you do), and because of this, I was able to bargain hunt. For example, I bought the boys’ double bathroom vanity on sale and saved 50% ($500!!) off the price AND got free shipping. You can catch free shipping sales through a lot of online retailers and save tons of money. Also, big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot do free shipping to the store, and they carry WAY more online than they do in the store. Because of shopping around for deals, our house looks WAY more expensive than it actually was.

8) Have a game plan in mind. How long do you plan on being in this home? For us, this is our long-term “forever” house, so we didn’t want to skimp in key areas. Keep in mind that certain things are easier to change than others- for example, it’s easy to change a light fixture later on that it is to change your exterior finishings. For that reason, we went ahead and used a high-quality hardplank siding and brick detail on the exterior. We also didn’t rush into a lot of landscaping knowing that we’ll be here for a while and can build our yard over time.

9) Know your priorities. If you love to bake and invent new recipes, then you’ll probably be wanting a great kitchen. If you hate to cook and order take-out every night, maybe take some of those resources from the kitchen and put them into a great master bathroom instead. It’s all about making your house work for you. Our kitchen had to be top-notch because I live in that room, but I didn’t care as much about having a super fancy master bedroom. It helped to tell our contractor what mattered most to us because then he knew where to concentrate our budget, as well.

10) Try not to get overwhelmed. There are a million decisions to be made. There are budgetary concerns. There are delays. All of these things and more can really wear on your relationship with your spouse and your family if you allow the stress to get to you. If you find yourself getting really anxious, take a break from the house for a few days. Relax and think about something else! We’ve had to take a few mental breaks during this process and just concentrate on other things so we didn’t go crazy. It can really take over your life if you let it, so don’t!

Bonus lesson:

11) If you’re living with your in-laws while you’re building, move out and get an apartment. Haha, just kidding (kind of).

Those are a few things we learned while building our house. I hope that helps any of you that are in the midst of the chaos of building or thinking through making that move. All in all, it was well worth the nine months of living with my in-laws (notice I only said this AFTER we moved out of their house!! Haha, seriously though, thanks Bruce & Iris for putting up with us and our wild boys!) and the five full months of construction. We’re finally home!

 

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