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 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!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

And then, one day, this happened....

So, it's been in the works for quite a few months now...but it's finally official!  We signed the papers yesterday afternoon and I feel like it's finally safe to announce that we've not only sold our house on Robin Lane, but we've also moved into what I'm hoping we'll be calling our "forever home" about 15 miles away in a small town called Marengo.  

I've been waiting months and months to type up this blog post because it didn't all happen over night.  And, I feel like I've been keeping a really big secret from my blog readers.  We started half halfheartedly looking at houses for sale back in the fall....and sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas we finally found a house that we thought we could love.  But, maybe I should back up a may be asking yourself, why in the world are they moving?  Didn't they just put a million hours of work into that house?

Well, true, we did....but when we bought this house we sort of knew it was going to fit our needs in the short term, but we had grand visions of something more.  We purchased this house back in 2012 just 5 weeks after Abby was born.  It was a short sale and while it was in pretty good shape compared to others we'd seen, it still needed work.  If you want to take a trip down memory lane to see what it looked like the day we closed, here's a link to the new house tour I did back in 2012.  We've come a LONG way!

We knew we could pour some blood, sweat, tears and money into this house and flip it into our dream to the search that started back last fall.  In mid December we found a horse farm on 5 acres and while the house wasn't quite everything we wanted....the land was, and if there is one thing that Ryan is good at, it's construction, so we hemmed and hawed on it and thought it through and finally decided that when we got back from our trip to Hawaii we'd make an offer on the horse farm.  Fast forward to mid March, we returned from Hawaii and started prepping our house to list it (because we couldn't buy a new house until ours was sold).  In that week or so time frame between getting back from Hawaii and writing up the offer letter we found out that much of the property was listed in a flood plain and we would be very restricted on what and where we could build on the property.  

We ended up making an offer on the horse farm house with a contingency that we'd need to see how the actual survey the owners ordered came out, but wanted them to know that we were serious about buying.  That same day we signed the paperwork to list Robin Lane for sale and these pictures were taken.  It was a bit of a leap of faith but we knew we'd need to sell before we could buy and so we decided to list even though we didn't 100% know where we'd end up.

After listing and making the offer on the horse farm we found out that the owners of the horse farm had taken an offer from a second buyer that came into the picture pretty late in the game.  We were a little saddened but decided to keep our house listed just in case.  Plus, there was still the whole flooding issue that needed to be worked out in our minds.  So we moved forward as planned.

The sellers of the horse farm came back to us a few weeks later saying that the second offer they took fell through and asking if we were still interested.  At that point the survey had been completed and it was clear that we'd never be able to make the improvements to the house that we had planned and so we graciously declined and continued our search for a new home while leaving Robin Lane listed.

We had a tremendous response to our's was hard to keep track because many days we had two or three showing in one afternoon/evening but I'd guess that we had between 30-40 showings from mid April through mid May.  It was a crazy time in our lives with me trying to work from home, and having the two girls, both with early bed times.  We did a lot of evening walks and trips to the forest preserve to kill time...we ate a lot of meals out and did a LOT of driving around looking at homes that were on the market for ourselves.

There were a few "false starts" or offers that didn't pan out for one reason or another but the week before Memorial Day we finally got an offer....the one that would ultimately stick.  We were feeling pretty disheartened in our search at this point as the only house we really like (the horse farm) had fallen through.  We had some second place options but all of them would have been settling in some aspect.  Then, one weekend just before our offer came in my friend Nichole mentioned that her neighbor (Leah's) parents were planning on listing their house for sale soon...and would we be interested in taking a look before they did?

Nichole said that the house was on five acres (YES!) but that it was a two bedroom ranch (NO!).  Our ideal home would have been a five bedroom two story house....why five rooms?  Well, master, two kids bedrooms, a guest room and then an office for Ryan and I to share since we both technically work out of the house.  So, while we had very low hopes that this potential house would be right for us we decided it couldn't hurt to take a look.  At this point we'd spent hours and hours and hours driving around, going on showings, etc so what was another hour at this point?

As we drove up the driveway and got a peak at both the house and the land we knew we had a winner.  But, we knew we'd have to see if we could make the two bedrooms work for us...could we add on?  Convert a space to a bedroom?  Finish an unfinished area?  Is there a way we could make it work?  We decided it was time to get creative.

Pam and Gary (the owners) took us on a tour of the house, the detached shop and the property and we were hooked!  At that point we hadn't sold our house yet (it was about a week later when we got the offer on Robin) so we thanked them for letting us take a look, told them to keep us in mind before they sold to anyone else and went home.  Just one short week later we landed the offer on Robin and the rest is sort of history!

Since Pam and Gary hadn't listed their house for sale yet we actually ended up doing the purchase without realtors on both sides...making the price something we could afford (because they passed some of the realtor savings on to us).  Buying this way has been a complete DREAM for us...and I'm wondering if we could ever do it the normal way again.  I mean...we literally negotiated on price and the specifics over beers and handshakes in the back yard and then we brought in the lawyers to make it all legal.

Pam and Gary have been amazing to us through the entire process.  We went through the house room by room with them and worked out what would stay and what wouldn't.  We bought some furniture from them, got them to leave the washer and dryer and were even able to start moving things into the shop this past weekend before we'd signed the paperwork.  They were the most amazing couple to work with.  We hope they feel the same about us!

So -it's been a roller coaster of a ride, and I'm so happy to say that the hardest part is finally over.  We've got keys in our hands, the paperwork is signed and our names are on the title of our new house.  It's been stressful, exhausting, exciting, and crazy all at the same time.

Moving with two kids has been tough....and I think the move has been hard on Abby.  Hazel is too little to really understand what is going on, but Abby has been living in world where every day she comes home something else is moved or packed and she's seen her toys dwindle down to only a Barbie camper and some Lion Guard toys.  She spent the last few nights sleeping with only a mattress on the floor in her room but we're finally into the new house and I think she's starting to see that things are going to get back to normal.

On top of the move, the girls have also moved to a new daycare.  Another hard decision we had to make, but our old daycare is about 20 miles from the new house and with me working from home, it was just too many miles to do that commute just to drive back home again.  The good news is that the girls are now going to the daycare with Parker and Reece (Nichole's two adorable kids) so they've got some built in friends on the very first day.  Abby and Hazel started there today so we'll see how that goes.  

What I love most about it is that Nichole spent summers with us when we were younger.  My mom, being a kindergarten teacher, was off in the summers and she babysat Nichole for many summers.  Those are some of the best memories I have of childhood.  Joey, Nichole and I keeping ourselves busy and probably getting into trouble 5 days a week.  And now, my kids get to do the same with her kids.

So, do I have some mixed feelings about leaving?  Not really!  Sure, this is our first "house".  The place we raised our two kids in for 4 years.  It's the home we brought Hazel back to after she was born, the place we threw first birthdays for both girls.  The first time Ryan and I built something together...renovated together, argued about paint colors and hardware choices.  Went back and forth with room layouts and furniture placement.  We've grown as a couple and as a family living here on Robin for those reasons, sure....but this new house, it's so awesome, guys.  Seriously!

I can not wait to have you all out to visit and help us make all kinds of new memories in this new house.  And, for those of you that live farther away and may not be able to visit, I'll be back at some point with pictures of the new house before we moved in...and maybe some in progress moving pictures as well so you can see how we lay out the rooms.

Oh!  And, I can't forget to send a HUGE thank you out to everyone who came out to help make this move possible.  We recruited both sets of parents last weekend and next to get us packed up and moved.  Chris and Brenna donated some of their Saturday to help shuffle box after box after box out of the basement (you guys helped more than you know) and Erin's here helping to unpack boxes as we speak.  Dan, Ellyn, Mom and Dad all came out to help with the unpacking today and I know we've got another work weekend ahead of us but I'm feeling like we'll be pretty settled within a week from today and that is ONLY because of all of the help and support we've had along the way.

I spent the days between Hazel's birthday party and yesterday packing as many boxes I could a day.  My goal was five boxes a day and even with all of that prep work I know we could not have done it  without the help of our friends and family these past few weeks.  You guys are awesome and we're here to repay the favor whenever you need us!

Ok - that's enough chatting...I've got boxes to unpack and furniture to reassemble.  I'll be back with pictures of the new house for you in a bit...but for now, finish up the tour of Robin lane from the day we listed (it's never been this clean again!) and enjoy!