Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: The Year in Review

At the end of last year, I knew that this year was going to be a big one for us.  I never could have imagined how some of the things that happened would play out, but 2013 was an amazing year for our little family. 

In January I took some passport photos.  My little Diva couldn't help herself. 

In February, I got a promotion at work that was beyond what I could have expected to be offered.  We start making plans for the rest of the year, take Kayla to the Hands on House for the first time, celebrate Shaun's birthday and Valentine's Day as a family. 
March brought us Easter, and the annual egg hunt.  Kayla did an amazing job running out and gathering eggs all by herself.  By the end of the month, we are in talks with a realtor to get our townhouse on the market.
By the start of April, we have a sign in the yard and are going to open houses and other showings on at least a weekly basis.  We put an offer on (and don't get) a house we like in a development we love.  We push on with resolve to wait until we no longer have to put in a sale-contingent offer.  We try to be patient, but it makes us a little nutty. 
It wasn't far into May that our luck turned around.  On my birthday, we received and accepted an offer on the townhouse.  By the 11th, we had an accepted offer in on another house in the same development where we missed out the first time.  The place was vacant and the owners worked with us to get a quick settlement.  This allows us to relax and celebrate the Derby, our annual trip to Dewey and Memorial Day.  I do manage to land myself back on crutches while in Dewey, but that's a story for another time...
June was a flurry of boxes and newspaper at both the old and new houses.  We were fortunate to have lots of help and things went pretty well, all things considered.  Kayla and the dog both settled right in to the new place with minimal fuss, and it became home much more quickly than I ever thought. 
 The beginning of July found us enjoying the gorgeous little island of St. Lucia.  After our return home, we celebrated Kayla's fourth birthday.  Once again, I'm stunned at how fast it all goes.  Kayla goes to the dentist for her first real checkup and does fabulously. 
Thankfully we were able to take August to relax after all the excitement of the previous few months.  We enjoy our new pool, take bike rides around the neighborhood and a visit from Aunt Paula.  At the end of the month, Shaun and I embark on our biggest DIY project to date. 
September came in on a beautiful warm day, and brought us a family gathering for labor day, Kayla's first day as a Teddy Bear at school, and her first try at ballet classes.  In between working on our project we enjoy the final throes of summer and then close up the pool. 
October brought pumpkins, leaves and another trick or treat as a black cat. 

November gave us more leaves, and lazy days at home.  We also all but finished our home improvement project.  :-)
December we called our basement officially done.  We made our annual trip to the tree farm, had an amazing Christmas party, Santa's visit, Kayla's first sledding experience and getting her ears pierced. 

All in all, 2013 was incredibly good to us, I can only hope that the coming year treats us as well. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Our trip to St. Lucia

While we are on hiatus from posting home improvement projects (we are working on a big one though!) I wanted to make sure I chronicle our trip to St. Lucia.  We booked this trip back in October of 2012, not having any idea how things were going to change over the following six months.  A promotion for me, putting our house on the market, accepting an offer on that house on my birthday then spending a week or two sweating it out while we worked out details and tried to secure a house we loved that would allow us to not have to move in with family temporarily.  We were lucky enough to get a 30-day settlement on this place, so we settled, moved in and two weeks later took off on vacation.  Out of the country.  With an almost 4-year old.  Insanity, right?  Maybe so, but it was worth every moment on so many levels. 

For our first time traveling, everything went super smoothly.  All of the things that had me worried (airports, security, long flights) were a non-event.  TSA really does handle families well, even at 4 AM.  Kayla was happy and cooperative and napped on the second (longer) flight on the way down.  During the week we ate and drank our fill, enjoyed the lazy river and pools, and had a blast with our friends.  Every now and again, Kayla asks me when we're going to go back to St. Lucia. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Second Project - Master Closet

The second project we decided to take on was our master closet.  Shaun wanted to move all of his clothing in there to avoid the in and out of the bathroom in the morning, since the closet is attached to the bathroom and not to the bedroom. 

First I had to choose the paint pallet for the master suite.  Voila:

From left to right (all Behr paint) Heavy Cream (ceilings and trim), Natural Grey (closet), French Court (bedroom - subject to change, this might be too dark) and Minted Lemon (bathroom).  It may not be super creative, but I like it and I think it suits us well. 

So, from there we started with this:

It worked well enough, but needed sprucing up.  There was a lot of wall damage...

And some of the storage solutions just didn't work for us.  I can't stand over the door shoe racks, for example. 

So we took everything out, patched, painted, installed Closetmaid Impressions storage on both sides, added a new light, a stool for putting shoes/socks on (and a mirror, which wasn't up yet when I took these) and some 5 1/4" trim around the new shelving, and now we have this:


Now we have an organized, functional space for clothing and shoe storage, as well as dressing.  I'm very happy with how this one turned out. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

First Project - Pool Opening

The outside of this house has been a challenge.  A year of neglect aside from lawn mowing left us with half dead shrubs, a laurel that was swallowing the pool pump and air conditioning condenser whole and three foot high thistles everywhere.  Thanks to a lot of elbow grease and a lot of weed killer donated by my in laws, we came home from St. Lucia to a yard that was cleaned up and ready for pool opening. 

Then the pool looked like this. 

Not pretty.  Approximately 3 days and a gazillion dollars in chemicals later, it looked like this.

Only slightly better.  Finally we called in a second pro to help us out, and we ended up draining at least 1/3 of it.  Finally now, it looks like this.

As much of a PITA as it was, we really do enjoy it... now if we could just get one more good heat wave before it's time to close up...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Before Tour part Two

So let's continue upstairs, shall we?
One of the first things you come to is this funky little closet.  We still haven't decided exactly what to do with this, but for now it's where we store all of our spare cleaning supplies.

Across the hall is the laundry area with linen closet.  This room doesn't need much - a coat of paint and eventually a matching washer/dryer pair.  We left ours behind at the last house, so we're using what was left behind here.  In an ideal world, when we're ready to buy new ones we would also have the gas company out to run a gas line up here for the dryer. 

Just past the laundry room is the "bonus room" above the garage, which is Kayla's room. Everything she owns is currently packed into here; in the future that will change.  Plans for this room include a fresh coat of paint and some carpet.  Perhaps we'll also remove the heavy bag hanger from the ceiling... once I am certain that MMA isn't in her future, of course. 

Now back the other way to the remainder of the stairs (anyone else find it weird that we live in a split level, but it's the second floor that is the split level?  No, just me?  OK, moving on then...).

Kayla's bathroom... this room needs some serious help.  The linoleum is badly yellowed, there are holes in the tub that are repaired with silicone, and there are some other pretty bad holes in the walls.  For now it is fully functional though, and so long as she has her ducky shower curtain, she is happy. 

Spare bedroom number one, in bright fuchsia complete with chalkboard paint wall.  Eventually this room will probably be a multi-purpose room with some of Kayla's toys, and I hope to use it as a bit of a studio space for some photography pursuits... after a coat of paint, of course. 

Spare bedroom number two, in "sexy pink" (I kid you not, that is what it is called).  This room also has a chalkboard wall, and a collapsing windowsill that needs some attention.  This room will eventually be our guest room. 

In order to turn this into a guest room, first we need to deal with this:

It may be maroon, but at least they got rid of the blue/green carpet that used to be in here.  That would have been too much to take.  Kind of like Pepto pink walls... oh.

I love this bathroom.  Honestly, I do.  I wish the shower was a bit bigger, but I love the gigantic tub and that we have plenty of room in our vanity for all of our stuff.  The color leaves me feeling a little dizzy as well, but that's an easy fix.
On the other side of the bathroom is our master closet... that was our first big project though, and the subject of a future post.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Before Tour Part One

So here it is... the house that has become home, despite all of my initial misgivings. 

You'll notice that the front shot in yesterday's post is taken from sort of an odd angle.  Well, that's because from across the street, this is what you see:

Between the crepe myrtle and the cherry tree, the front is a bit hard to
distinguish, which is a shame.  The crepe myrtle will likely stay, but we home to take the cherry tree down sometime next year.  Hiding behind all of that is a rather inviting front porch.

And that, my friends, is where the charm ends.  Well, almost.  Right inside the front door, you will find the formal living room. 

Less than desirable laminate floors aside, this room is a blank slate and the room that probably needs the least work.  We hope to turn this into a formal dining room.  On the other side of the entryway is...
The ugliest wallpaper you've ever seen.  Seriously, these people had an unhealthy obsession with borders.  The wallpaper below doesn't help the cause any.  This room is smaller than our formal living room, so we'll likely keep the small table in there and use it as our everyday eating spot. 

Through the doorway is the kitchen.  Not so bad, right?

Yes, those are blue laminate countertops that are supposed to resemble marble.  With white cabinets.  And black appliances.  Oh, and the knobs on the cabinets?? Those are brass.  Hot.  I didn't even take any close-ups of the poorly done textured ceiling they put up to hide the remnants of a leak upstairs. 

The far end of the kitchen has a little space for a breakfast nook, which we will likely take over with an extension of the cabinets and countertop when we get around to redoing this room.  That space leads into the family room.
Why yes, those are yellow-cream and shit-brown walls.  Thanks for noticing. 

At least the fireplace is nice.  Notice there are no close ups of those walls.  I'd fill a memory card with pictures of the holes left behind. 

The final stop on our main room tour is the powder room.  Aside from the formal living room, this is probably the least objectionable room on the main floor of the house.   

Except for the wallpaper border. *shudder*

Posts to come... the before tour part two, and a lesson on how to destroy drywall by moving out of a house.