reminiscing about building our house

It has been 14 months since we sold our last house and started on the crazy journey of building the house we are in now.  We started the process thinking about selling our house to use the equity to possibly buy a fixer-upper and downsize in square footage to trade up for a larger yard.  We stumbled across a listing for our current lot September 2013 and fell in love with the wooded location.
Our last house summer 2013The kitchen in our last house
The wooded lot we currently live on (the one and only time we have spotted a deer in our yard)
The first step was to begin clearing the lot, Chris did this himself to save money.  We spent weeks out there, usually just Chris but on the nicer days we would join him. We stayed in a townhouse about five minutes from our new house.  We came home so many nights smelling like bonfire.The next step was to have the lot excavated for the basement and foundation.  The lot was very flat and we had to bring in 55 truckloads of dirt to raise it up and have windows in our basement. I really wanted a walk-out basement, but I can’t imagine how much more dirt we would have needed!One of the most exciting parts of the building process was the framing.  I had been dreaming about what the drawing of a house would look like on our lot for months and to finally drive in and see it standing there was surreal.  We literally painted every square inch of our house.  We primed the walls and ceilings with a  sprayer, rolled the walls and used the sprayer to paint the trim and doors.  The one thing we hired out was painting the cabinets, we were too scared we would mess them up!There were so many late nights spent at the house, a few of them we brought sleeping bags and the little tv + DVD player for the boys to fall asleep there while we worked (keep in mind there was no carpet and the floors were dusty with sheetrock dust).  Building a house is not for everyone, I know many people who would much rather buy an existing home to avoid the headache but for us it was the only way we were going to get everything we wanted in a home.Some people have been curious to know what we did ourselves to save money during the building process, so here it is: We did most of the contracting, kept track of our budget, dispersed payment to contractors, collected lien releases, cleared trees, painted walls, ceilings, trim and doors, installed the fireplace and shiplap, laid hardwood floors, four bathrooms full of tile, a subway tile kitchen backsplash, pantry and closet shelving, Chris helped with the sidewalk and porch concrete, the sprinkler system, landscaping and sod.

Things that were hired out: Excavation, well, septic system, concrete work (foundation and basement), framing, roofing, siding, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, sheetrock hanging and finishing, trim work, carpet and cabinets.

The new house is basically the same as our last house square footage and style wise but we changed a few things around to have it feel more open.  We also did a ‘side-load’ garage (I have always wanted this!)  We were most interested in moving to have a larger yard (and those trees!) and be in a quiet setting with room for the boys to run!
Building a new house was one of the most fun and stressful things we have ever done but I will never forget how exciting each step was and hopefully our boys will remember bits and pieces and mostly the hard work that their mom and dad did to finish it.

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Cleaning routine

About four weeks ago I was told to check out “clean mama” on instagram and since then I have been loving this new cleaning routine.  A few reasons I needed this:

1.  I am sure you have heard the term “cleaning your house with kids is like brushing your teeth while eating oreos”  this is so true.  Sometimes it’s un-motivating to clean when you know it’s going to get dirty right away anyways.

2.  Distracted cleaning.  I start vacuuming and notice the baseboards are dusty which then leads me into washing the dirty white doors etc. etc. and then the vacuuming never gets finished, I feel overwhelmed and less gets done.

3.  Having a routine and a few goals each day keeps me on task and the house cleaner as a whole.

There are some days I don’t get everything done but then I try to catch-up the next day (like vacuuming and washing floors on the same day.)  I also don’t wash sheets and towels on Saturdays, I wash them on Mondays since weekends are too busy and I would most likely forget the sheets in the washer until we are about to go to bed….

The biggest thing for me is making sure the dishes are done each day, the counters wiped off and general clutter is put away.

Do you have a cleaning routine?  If so, I would love to know what works for you!

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Reason for the season

Sometimes life is so busy, the dishes and laundry always piling up and it’s so easy to forget to slow down a bit.  I hate to admit it but I have never actually taken the time to make Christmas cookies with my boys.  I have always wanted to start Christmas traditions but it just never “fits” into the schedule.  This year was different, I have taken some time off from my photography business and it has been refreshing to have time to do the things I haven’t allowed myself to do in awhile. We recently took a vacation (just Chris and I) and it was so nice to kind of reset!  I even read an entire book (Gone Girl, I highly recommend it!) which I haven’t done in years.  This year we started a tradition of making Christmas cookies together and the time together was priceless.  The cookies didn’t all turn out exactly as they were supposed to but the boys assured me many times that they didn’t care and they still liked them.  Some days are so hard with my boys and I feel like I am refereeing all day but for these few hours everything was perfect and we didn’t have another care in the world. Spending this time with my boys made me realize we need this more often and that we can stray from our schedule and the house can be messy while we are having fun together.

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Christmas family room

Our house is and will always be an ever-evolving project.  A month or so ago I found a great deal on an almost new sofa on craigslist so I decided to move the sectional downstairs and re-arrange a bit. It’t nice to have the extra space in the family room especially since the tree takes up one corner. I moved the clearance west elm glider I got a year ago down from our room to the opposite corner and it has been getting a lot more use. It’s a bit of an adjustment not having the sectional to sprawl out on but it fits perfect down the basement.  The navy sofa has clean lines and the dark color is a nice contrast to all the gray and white.  I usually keep our holiday decorations minimal, mostly since I am not great at keeping everything organized and perfectly put away at the end of the year (I seriously dread it!)  I built a wood ‘box’ on wheels that fits perfectly into the space next to the fireplace, we just need to add a back to it so that the mess of cables is not showing- one step at a time!

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