Friday, August 26, 2016

Abby Turns 4!


Abby must believe that all holidays and celebrations last for anywhere between 3 days and 2 weeks.  If there is one thing that the McGrath family is good at, it's celebrating.  We started off Abby's birthday weekend with our family birthday cake and a few presents from us and Grandma/Papa.

I've blogged this birthday cake before, but it's our families tradition to have this amazing chocolate chip sponge cake with custard filling and frosting for birthdays.  It's a huge pain the butt to make and has about 10 million calories in it but I knew we'd have enough people around this weekend to help eat it so I spent a few hours on Friday making this (it's SO good!).


Saturday morning Joey and Andy came out with my niece and nephew (Kayden and Lincoln) and we got to spend the day swimming, chatting, hanging out and enjoying the great weather.  It was really fun to get to show them around the new house and property.


Since we just moved and we're in a fairly rural area now we decided that maybe we should make some driveway signs to help people find the place.  It doesn't help that some GPS's send people into town, so we heard from quite a few people that the signs were a big help.  Good thing Grandma was here to help paint them.  She has WAY better handwriting and way more patience than I do, and these signs turned out awesome.  In hindsight we wish we'd have just written "party" so they'd be more multipurpose, but you'll see these again, I'm sure.



Some of my favorite pictures are of just me with one or both of the girls.  Since I'm often the one behind the camera, they seem few and far between, but I'm getting better at it.



One thing I'm terrible at is them parties.  I don't know, they are just so much work but this year I knew Abby would enjoy the process of going to pick out decorations and getting to pick a real theme for her party.  Before going to pick them out I knew that Dory and Ninja Turtles would be the big decision.  I was secretly hoping for Dory.  Luckily the Dory decor was located front and center in the store and we didn't even make it down the aisle to look at anything else.


The #1 thing Abby was most excited about was this pinata.  Someone, I can't remember who, told her about pinatas a few months back and she's been obsessed.  When we found the Dory pinata all thoughts of those Ninja Turtles were gone.  Abby did a great job helping me fill it and watching the kids whack at it was a ton of fun.


After about 10 minutes of standing around watching the kids tap at it with the slightly dangerous stick Ryan provided we decided to let Daddy take a whack at it and while he missed on the first one (he's going to kill me for that), the second hit worked like a charm and the kids piled into the candy like it was the best thing that ever happened.  It was quite a hit!



Ellyn decided way back when Abby turned 1 that she'd get a little cupcake for the girls on their birthdays.  This years cupcake was a Dory fish, to match the theme.  Isn't it adorable.  I'm sure it tasted amazing.  It feels like a waste to let this little frosting only eater have it all to herself, but that's what birthdays are all about.


This smile.  Man, I swear as she looked around to see everyone signing to her it's like she knew how lucky she was to have all these people there, for her, on her special day.  She's one lucky little girl, and I think she knows it.



Yes, even Hazel got to have some cupcakes (thanks Uncle Mike).  Hazel spent a good part of the party sleeping soundly in her room upstairs which was totally fine by me.  But, she woke up just in time for the excitement of the frosting.




While the cupcakes and pinata were fun, I think Abby's favorite part of the entire party was having all her little friends over.  We were originally going to make her party a kids party (and much smaller scale) but with moving into the new house so close to her birthday we figured we'd do one more huge family bash and combine it with a sort of housewarming/welcome to our new place sort of thing, which worked out perfectly.



So, so many presents.  This little lady is one lucky girl.  She got a ton of coloring/craft supplies, lots of play-do and some fun games (thanks for those guys!  I'm tired of Hungry Hungry Hippos on repeat), and some clothes that will be perfect for her this fall/winter.


In the evening after most everyone cleared out we had a small group left and we decided it was pool time!  What better way to end a great weekend than a dip in the pool with friends and family.  I'm disappointed the picture came out a little blurry but it just goes to show how much fun we were having.

We're so thankful for each and every one of you that came out to help us celebrate our new home and our little four year old.  We are so lucky to have such an amazing support structure and family.  We love you all to pieces!



Monday, August 22, 2016

1 Family x 12 (August)


You guys, I have a FOUR year old?!?!?  Can you believe it?  I know, I'm not the first to say it, but good lord!  Time flies by so quickly.  I've got a full post about Abby's birthday coming up but for now, I'll leave you with our family photo for August.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Welcome To Our New Home!


Well, who is ready for a tour of our new house?!?!  We can not wait to show it to everyone in person but when we moved in at Robin Lane I went through and took pictures before a single box had been moved in or unpacked.  Those pictures were fun to look back on as we moved our way through project after project and then to ultimately have true "before and after" shots of the house.  I had grand visions of doing the same with this move but a combination of having access to move somethings in the weekend before, having two small people to manage, and lots of help meant that my "before" pictures were filled with boxes and life was in a half unpacked state.


So - while I do have a set of "mostly before" pictures, I figured I'd wait a few more days to get something even better - pictures of us moved in and mostly settled.


But, before I get ahead of myself I wanted to take a few minutes to thank four very special people.  They happen to be our parents who have been there for us through the entire move process.  If you read my last blog post you know that they were here two weeks ago helping to pack and load boxes.  Well, they returned in full force on Wednesday to help unpack and get us on the path toward normal again.  And then (!) came this past weekend to help some more.  This house would NOT look this good without these four very special, very helpful people, and for that, we are so thankful!


So, lets all raise our glasses (real or virtual) to help me thank my moving crew.  You guys are amazing!


And, without further ado, here goes nothing.


The house has a two car attached garage (shown above) that is extra wide and extra deep (which you all know Ryan loves).  For the first time, maybe ever, We'll both be parking our cars in the garage, full time.  No more defrosting the windshield in the morning or scraping ice!


The back yard is the place to be people.  We've got a huge pool, awesome deck and beautiful landscaping.  I've got my bird feeders hung, deck furniture out and we've been loving every inch of this outside space.  My mom said "I bet you'll use this pool more than you ever used your old one" and she's absolutely right.  In fact, I'd venture to say that we've swum in this pool more times than we'd swum at the old house just in the short week we've lived here.  We've been in it every single night since moving in with the exception of Thursday when it poured rain.


Someday I'll regret not staging each and every one of these pictures (like not putting the cushions out or pulling the covers off the outdoor furniture) but this is what you get one week after moving in.  Guess you'll just have to come visit to see it fully set up.


From the back deck you can see the swing set to the far right and the fire pit just to the left of that.  Then to the left of the picture you can see Ryan's shop.  I can tell you for 100% certainty, Ryan was sold on this house before we even saw the inside.  He was ready to sign on the dotted line as soon as he saw the long driveway and the shop.


Moving the swing set from the old house was a huge project that took an entire weekend in and of itself but we know that we will get so much use out of it.  It's been too hot the past few days so it hasn't gotten much use this week but we know that the girls love it.  We just need to add the sand box under the tower and this project will be complete.  


Ryan's shop is huge and I know he'll be resting a bit easier once it cools off and he can really start unpacking it.  I know it's been killing him that we've focused so much on the inside of the house this past week.  I'll share pictures of that space once it looks like something.  Right now it's a big mess/dumping ground that I know gives him anxiety...so more to come on that later.

Now we're getting to the good stuff - the inside (though, if you ask Ryan and I, the outside is the "good stuff" too!).  Anyways, this is the front entry way.  The front door is behind me.  The stair case to the right goes downstairs (we'll come back to that in a bit) and the door way on the maroon wall is Abby's room.  The second door there leads to her bathroom.


Spinning just a bit and still in the front entryway you can see the entrance to the living room, the dining room (with the M on the wall) and a tiny peek at the kitchen.


In so many ways, Abby got a huge upgrade when we moved into this house.  The kid's bathroom is awesome and located right outside her door.  There's a huge sink, full bath and great linen closet there for the girls.  Since Hazel is still too little this is really princess Abby's for now.  Someday she'll have to share.



Check out this kids room, guys.  I mean, seriously!  She's got a queen sized bed, room for her tent and a bookcase on it's way.  She's set!  Notice the quilt?  I'm so glad we're finally able to use it!



Coming out of Abby's room you can see the front door here to the left and the staircase into the basement.  Then a peek into the dining room.


You guys, this living room is awesome!  We bought the couch from the old owners and it's so comfortable.  Like in the old house, we know we'll spend a LOT of timing in the basement but having a "big kid" living room sure feels great.  We can easily host people in this space and not feel crowded.  It still needs some decorating (no, that deer head is NOT staying there) but there isn't a single box in sight and I call that a win.


You know we loved our wood burning stove at the old house and we can not wait to get this one going once it cools off a bit.


I'll likely update the paint in this room and I can't wait to get a new dining room set, but for now we'll call this room done.  It's perfect as it is and is big enough that we can easily fit a table with 8 and maybe even 10 chairs.  I foresee lots of family dinners here in the future.


The kitchen is a galley connecting the dining room and then eat in kitchen area on the other side.



From here the living room is behind me and the kitchen is just to the left.  From this angle you can see a door that leads to the back deck (the one with the rug), the wood door straight ahead leading to Hazel's room, and our bedroom door is just to the right of her door.


Walking forward and standing with my back to the master bedroom door you can see the door that leads to the garage (right), a huge pantry (left), a small powder room (middle door) and then the laundry room at the end of the hallway.


That washer/dryer is AWESOME guys....seriously, awesome.  And, the storage in this room is great too.  We've got all of the dog food stuff in there, cleaning supplies and lots of overflow stuff that just didn't have a home.


The master is huge, people, huge!  Like, we don't have enough furniture to fill it.  Which is an awesome problem to have.  Yes, the bed is off center in the above picture and I know that will make Ryan crazy, but, he wasn't here to help me move it back (we were cleaning a spot on the carpet) and I wanted to get these pictures taken so I could get them posted.  So, long story short, I'll swap this one out for a better one later.  For now, this works.

Eventually we'll get the TV hung and Ryan will build some doors for the dresser there on the right.  But, we'll call this room a WIP and keep moving along.


Just like the master bedroom, the master bath is equally huge.  I've never been much of a bath kind of girl, but I have a feeling this tub will change that.  The window looks out into the backyard (at the wood swing and bird feeder area you saw earlier).


Closets are hard to take pictures of so I skipped that one, but you can see it right in the above picture. 

The one thing we were worried about when we heard about this house was the fact that it only had two bedrooms.  But, this finished lofted space meant that we'd easily be able to move right in and give the girls each their own room.  For now, Hazel's room needs probably the most work in the whole house (aside from Ryan's shop), but she's little and doesn't know the difference.  As long as I don't let the  mess bother me, this space works perfect for her.  The stairs here lead up to her room and our master bedroom is right there to the right in this picture.


The loft is one big open space (as most lofts are) but we plan to put a wall up somewhere between those two ceiling fans to give Hazel a real room that she can grow into.  The roof lines are a little strange for a bedroom but we'll be cutting closets into the open space created by the sloping roof and someday she'll love having her own little hidden space here.


Standing near the window in her room and looking back toward the stairs you can see what the rest of the room looks like.  Once we put the wall up to separate her room we plan to make this other section my quilting room or maybe Ryan's office.  For now, it's just a spot to store the quilting stuff that needs to be unpacked (eventually).


Ok - now  that we were at the tippy top of the house in Hazel's room I'm going to completely change directions and take you through the basement.  So - all the way back at the beginning you saw the staircase that led to the basement. Those stairs bring you out right here (you can sort of see the doorway to the right in this picture).

We've got a huge built in bar, great widows that let tons of light in, plenty of space for our giant couch and loads and loads of plans for this space.


To the left here on the wood floor we'll be putting in a pool table (eventually - thanks Mom and Dad for storing the one from the old house all these years!).  The double doors in the center there open to a huge storage closet.  The second set of double doors (sort of hidden by the beam there) lead to an unfinished space in the basement and out to the garage up another flight of stairs.


Checking out the basement from another angle you can see the full area here.  The open door to the right leads to the toy room and just behind the couch is my desk right now.  When we were looking for a house I was determined to get myself out of the basement but Chris suggested this space and after working here for a few days I have to agree that I really like it.  The windows let a ton of light in, there is a bathroom right here and it seems to be set up for it with the bookshelves.


I'm using a folding table for now, but once I decide if this is permanent Ryan will build me something that fits the space perfectly (and doesn't look so white trash).  


This bathroom sits just to the left of my desk and is perfect for guests who will be staying down here.


The toy room is an unfinished space that we'll consider a WIP for now.  But, it's perfect for hiding all of the toys and my favorite part is that you can close the door and the mess is gone!  Ellyn did a ton of work setting this space up for the girls and I hope we can keep it this clean all the time!


Ok - are you getting tire yet?  We're nearly finished which is good because I'm tired of typing!  Earlier I mentioned that there was an unfinished space in the basement.  These double doors lead to the utility room (to the left in this hallway) and to the guest bedroom (the door you can see) and finally to a second set of stairs that lead out of the basement and into the garage.


We've got lots of plans for this unfinished space.  As you can see we've got the guest bedroom set up here.  But it's also Ryan's office (see his chair on the right) and we plan to also make a workout room in here.  The room is huge, with three full closets, and we're thinking we can put up a wall right where the beam/pole is and have a door to a workout space in the back.  That way we get the most out of the space while keeping a guest room that isn't loaded up with workout gear and smelling like sweat!

There's a better picture - envision a wall with that step in the workout room and a door right near that closet.

So - with that I leave you in the least finished, least staged space of the whole house (bad planning on my picture tour!).  But, more importantly, we're so excited to finally be moved in.  We've got a handful of projects on our short list but the truth is that we could live here, just as we are, without doing a single thing.

I'm always skeptical of saying things are too permanent - we all know life can change in an instant - but, for the first time in maybe forever, we can finally say that we are at peace and ready to settle down.  We're ready to call this our "forever" home.  Or at the very least our home til the girls go away to college.  Seventeen years is a LONG time from now and I'm not naive enough to say that things can never change.  It's been quite the path to get here, but I think I speak for Ryan and I both when I say, we finally feel like we're home!