Friday, August 22, 2014

50 Years

Today would have been my parent's 50th wedding anniversary.


I think they are the cutest couple there ever was. They loved each other. I always said it was the perfect marriage.


My dad was a gentleman. I never saw my parents fight. I know they would stay up after the kids went to bed and talked things out, but they were a strong unit.

I have a hard time thinking about my mom's feelings today. I love Mr. JCrew so much and couldn't imagine life without him. Thinking about the day we married and how it was one of the happiest days to have found my soulmate and me united as one!

Our ACTUAL wedding photo - no dress needed.

Hopefully, I can keep us busy today so that we don't hurt so much. I don't want to NOT think about Dad, because I think of him everyday. But if I can lessen the hurt that is felt, I'd like to.

Today, Little JCrew gets to take a special birthday snack to school. I packed rice krispie treats. The teacher begged for no cupcakes. I'm glad she said something, because that was the first idea I had.

This morning we are meeting with our builder. We finally received our spec sheets that tells us how much money everything will costs. We're over budget, but the builder has some solutions he wants to go over with us.Have you ever heard of a builder that came in under budget??

Mr. JCrew has an afternoon class at school (might I mention this is his last semester!!!) and then we are headed to see his family. Little JCrew's 3rd birthday is on Sunday and we're keeping it simple with the birthday celebration. Last year was big and I declared no birthday would ever be that big again. It was fun, but I enjoy the time with family. That's how I remember birthday's growing up. Little does the family know, they will be dressing up for this party!!

Today will be a packed day, and with all that is going on, I'm pretty sure that's why I am up early. Continue to think of us today; my mom especially.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Door Selection - Natural Light

I am all about creating as much natural light as possible. When we were without power for over a week due to the 2011 tornadoes, I loved it! I went to sleep when the sun went down and rose when the sun did. I had contemplated adding more windows to my old living room, I love the sunlight so much.

I actually never understood why a neighbor kept their blinds closed. It made the house so dark. To me, the dark house can be depressing. Kind of reminds me of Beauty and the Beast’s castle.

At work, we renovated an old (1940’s) building and moved into it a month ago. There is a conference room that has three gorgeous windows with an actual view!

Yet, the sun got in people’s eyes and the boss has ordered blinds to put in the window. My heart sank with the news. Once blinds are up, people will tend to keep them closed. If it were me, I’d “suffer” through the sunlight.

So, throughout the design process of this house, I have made sure that there are a lot of windows and views to see. If I was going to create another beautiful backyard, I wanted to be able to view it from more rooms than just one.

There are so many windows in this house, that even the master closet has windows! Usually when a garage or closet has windows, I view it as wasted space. It takes up wall space where you can hang things or shelves. Yet, in this case, the master closet ended up on the front of the house; the front porch, to be exact. I didn’t want to remove windows and have it look odd.

It saddened me that the closet would get natural light that I wouldn’t get to enjoy. This idea stuck for a while as I tried to find reasons that I would need to go into the closet often; and then it hit me. I could use glass insert doors with frosted/seeded glass that would let the light come from the closets even when the doors were closed!

I really did get excited and yell, “yes” a couple of times. There will be so much natural light coming in.

Are you one that likes the blinds open or closed?

 Note: I apologize that I will not share the detailed plan of our new home. A lot of my time went into designing a home specifically for my family’s needs with regards to our lot of land. Most architects do not share specific plans and I don’t want to jeopardize my family’s safety. It is my hope that I can still share pieces of it with you and you still capture the essence of the info. Thank you.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Prison Break 2014 - Back to School

The headline you see is the Subject of an email I got from Little JCrew’s teacher on the first day of school.

The boys had orientation on Monday. It was a fast-paced morning to introduce the kids to their new teachers. Little JCrew held Mr. Brigglesworth’s hand as my attempt to keep them from running away from me or each other in a crowded parking lot. It worked, and as they reached the top of the stairs, Little JCrew yelled, “We did it!” They quickly let go of hands and the moment was gone. Precious while it lasted.

We were ready for the first day of school on Wednesday. Little JCrew knew what this day was all about and he was so excited. Mr. Brigglesworth had no clue that this would be so much more fun than Sunday School.

I did feed the boys a cookie before their first day. It was the only way I could get them to pose for a picture. Little JCrew was too busy watching his favorite show, that when I paused it, he frowned. The cookie made it better.

Mimi played with the placement of the cookies as ears and glasses and the boys thought it was hilarious.

Little JCrew looks so grown up. He has definitely grown in inches.

Back to the “Prison Break.” I received a voicemail and an email from Little JCrew’s teacher. She had to put him in timeout on the first day of school. (Oh, boy!) But the reasoning made me smile and I was not mad at all. Little JCrew’s class and Mr. Brigglesworth’s class were outside on the playground at the same time. There is a toddler side of the playground that is fenced off from the big-kid playground. The brothers saw each other and Little JCrew went to rescue his brother. Next thing you know, Mr. Brigglesworth is smiling with glee that he is on the big kid playground.

I can just picture it! The boys play together on the big kid playground after church. Little JCrew knew Mr. Brigglesworth was big enough to play, so he was going to let him.  But we had to talk with Little JCrew so he understood that Mr. Brigglesworth has to stay with his teachers.

It made me happy that the brothers really do have a love for each other. I see it at home, but it’s heart-warming to know it goes on when Mom and Dad aren’t around.

Little JCrew also got to play with scissors for the first time. He really enjoyed it. 

And they both brought home crafts from the first day.

I hope everyone and the kiddos are having great weeks back at school. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New Yard Layout

Progress is being made… at least in my head.

This time, the area is in the yard. I’ve had several ideas floating around. I’d only be happy with parts of it and still tweaking the parts that needed work. Now I can say that I am 95% confident and happy with the layout.

Yard Layout Only - Final

Our lot is a corner lot facing East. Part of designing the house was to utilize the corner lot and no neighbor next to us. We can't have a forward facing garage, and I liked the idea of a garage on the back side of the house with a driveway on the side. Between designs, the garage always stayed the same. Even when I looked at other floor plans, I only considered garages on the back of the house.

I created my own yard layout months ago and played around with placement of trees and bushes.Each time I came up with a new floor plan, I would create a yard layout with it. I wanted to see how much space I had for things. However, the measurements were off. I made my house smaller than it really was in comparison to the lot.

I then exploded the floorplan on the lot to see what it might look like. All this wasn’t to scale like I needed it to be. The old floor plan is shown in the photo below. I toyed around with having a circular drive.

The neighborhood has rules for placement of a house on a lot. My street has a different rule than other streets. Our lot is a corner lot, so there are additional rules to that, too. Now before everyone chokes on the amount of rules, I am not one to complain. I like the rules because they make you think. Yes, if I were out in the country I could do what I want and perhaps regret the decision later. The rules help me not have regrets. Since we are a corner lot, Rule #1 is that the house has to be at least 20 feet from the street, on both street fronts. The other two lot lines, require the house be a minimum of seven feet away.

So, my original thought was to have the back of the garage seven feet away from the back lot line. The new builder caught this immediately and said there was a city ordinance about how far your house should be from the back lot line. The city requires the house to be twenty-five feet away from the back lot line.  I thought I knew my neighborhood rules, but the city rules trump the neighborhood. However, if the neighborhood required the house be 40 feet away, then the neighborhood rule wins.  The city just wants their minimum met.

I was a little upset at this finding. It meant my front porch would be closer to the road than I had planned. I was losing 18 feet in my front yard. However, I liked that it made my backyard bigger!

Large Front Yard Space

Planning a yard layout is very fun for me. I sit and stare at a blank piece of paper for hours. True story. It’s all about creating views. And the first thing I do is come up with flowerbed borders. I don’t worry about the plants. Some plants I do have in mind, but I don’t stress about the variety early on.

cozy front yard

I’m just happy with the layout finally. The side door was giving me trouble. I wanted to create a cool visual when you walk up to it and from the street. Also, the view from inside matters, too.

non-traditional sidewalk design
Side Porch

Most areas have plants selected for them, but there are a lot of bare areas, mostly in the back yard. I keep telling Mr. JCrew that I can’t make plant selections until the framing is up. I need to see the views from inside the house. Is there something I want to block? Is there a focal point out a window? When I designed the house, I focused on creating views in the back yard. Our last back yard was beautiful, but you could only see a sliver from the kitchen and some from the master bedroom. I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy the view.

corner lot landscape

Having this layout will help our builder. He knows where to lay sod and not. We used this same method on my parents’ house. I can plant the plants I am certain of and pass inspection (by the HOA) but still have room to grow and add each year.

That’s the part I’m excited about. I have flowerbeds prepared and can get to them one by one and that be my project!

Building / designing a house for someone else intimidates me because I know styles are different. But designing a yard for someone is exciting. I think I could do that all day.

I'm excited to start working in a new yard. The planning has been fun, but I am ready to execute!

Friday, August 8, 2014

New House Lighting - Bought

I have had so much fun picking out the lighting in the new house. It is another way to add that much needed character I’m after.

My mind has changed many times, but I think I’ve narrowed it down quite well. Lighting can be quite expensive! Especially when the goal is to add character. I remember looking at updating the lighting in the bathroom and not wanting to pay $99 for 1 light. Luckily, I didn’t. Remember when I found them for $39? I bought several and replaced mine and my parents’ bathroom lights. I painted mine satin nickel and left theirs alone. I sold the old lights, so when we sold our house, I couldn’t take the new lights with us. However, I did still have my parents’ old lights, so I took their new ones down with intentions of using the new lights in the new house.

Because there are light deals out there that I stumble on, I have already purchased some of the lights. I know most builders don’t want you to do this because it takes away another area where they can gain profit, but if I can get a good deal on a light I want and get it before it is no longer available, then that’s what I will do. There are other areas I’m sure he can tag on the extra profit to.

  1. Francis Sconce – Pottery Barn website $79-149 
  2. Allen & Roth – Lowes $99 (no longer available)
  3. Pearson Flusmount – Pottery Barn website $199 
  4. Portfolio Litshire Outdoor Flushmount – Lowes – Website $40  
  5. Talbot Lantern – Pottery Barn website $250 no longer available
  6. Portfolio 6-Light Black Chandelier – Lowes – website - $79
  7. Econoswitch – Amazon – website - $40-50 
  8. Brayden Sconce – Lowes – website - $60

Above is a list of the lights that I have bought. THe description tells where in the house they will go, the number in () gives how many I will need, and the price in green is the TOTAL amount spent (not individual price). The list with the website info gives the individual price.

Lowes and Home Depot are great at providing lights that imitate the higher end models. One of those replicas I selected for the garage lights. Sea Gull has a higher end version for quadruple the amount. For one week back in July, Lowes had theirs on sale for $10 less than their list price of $60, so I bought the two that I needed.

I really like this light because of the glass above the light. It will allow light to come out at all angles. I don't look forward to them getting dirty, but if I only have two, that's not a bad chore to have.

The Pearson Flushmount was a flushmount that didn’t look like a boob. Ha! I had boob-type flushmounts in my house and they just weren’t my thing. Sometimes a flushmount is what you need, and I’m glad there are different shapes available. I liked the Pearson collection had a square-shaped globe to it and not a dome. 

"Boob" Flush Mount - Builder grade

 One day I was browsing the site and saw that the brushed nickel finish was on sale for $99. I thought $199 was way too high, but I know that Pottery Barn can run some good deals when they want to. I jumped right on it. Now they have other finishes on sale, but the lowest is $129. I struck a good deal.

All the other lights I have bought have also had some kind of discount applied to them. I do have a Lowes and Home Depot coupon for when we changed our address that expires this month, so I may be using that to purchase more lights at a discount! We’ll see!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

An Update on New House Construction

I’ve been bad about providing updates on the construction of the house, so you’ll get an earful with this post, and then I will do a better job with the updates.

Building a house is a long process. I honestly did not think it would take this long. And we are still only in the planning phases! A co-worker of mine built a custom home and she gave me the best advice… it’s never too early to start the process.

I talked to her back when we were just looking at land. I wanted to pick her brain about the entire process. She said she spent three years working with her builder before they even broke ground. Looks like we are on the same path!

We had always toyed with the idea of building a house large enough for my parents to move in with us, and to have more kids. I researched floorplans and found one I loved and modified. I submitted my floorplan to a couple builders with our budget. Many told us it couldn’t be done.

Original Floorplan altered to meet our needs

My package I sent to builders included everything! What paint colors I wanted, cabinet details, flooring, brick colors, etc. I learned a small fact about the amount of corners on your house adds cost. My floorplan had A LOT of corners, so I went back to the drawing board.

A little less corners, but still too many.

I revised my plan to something that was totally me. I designed my house! (The pictures I have posted are NOT our final house plans. We started from scratch on the final design.) I wouldn’t have to pay an architect for something... however, that thought became invalid. A builder we were talking closely with provided us the name of three draftsmen / home designers. I called each one of them.


The first guy just told me his price and told me to stop by his home office at my convenience. His price at $0.90 per square foot scared me away and I never met him. The second guy named a similar price, but he gave me feedback to my design without having to pay him. He was not tactful in the way he delivered his comments, and at one point I silently cried on the other end of the phone, but I listened to his criticism and made some changes. The third name on the list, was a woman. I immediately liked her and her price. She charged $0.35 per square foot and knocked it down to $0.30 if you used one of her preferred builders (which we were). She took my design and made it better! She added things I did not think about. She used my pictures of things I liked, and incorporated them. Things I didn’t even know were important for her to know, she used. I showed her the outside of a house we liked and told her I knew our floorplan was not the same at all, but if she could make it look like that in some way, I’d be happy.

Exterior we liked. House too big.

And she did! And guess what the cool part is? She does it all by hand! She does not use a program. I did not realize this until after the fact. At least the changes I asked her to make were small! But, wow! Her skill blew me away.

Getting the final prints from her did take longer than expected. She had some family issues come up and that caused a delay. But the product that she gave us was worth it. We met with her the first week of January, and didn’t get our final prints until May 30th. However, we had seen the 1st revision on February 5th and the second revision the week after. But we were anxious for the builder to get his hands on it to make us a budget quote.

Porch style we liked.

 We met with the builder on June 4th and he made mention he hoped our budget grew! We had wiggle room, but it didn’t grow. We left that meeting with a promise to get us a detailed budget we could take to the bank “soon.” Two days later, I emailed the builder to clarify his definition of “soon.” He stated it would be “at least a week or so.”   I counted down the days. My mom was placing bets on when the builder would call. I was hopeful. The builder had been so attentive with helping us stay in contact with the designer and her progress, that I knew he would be working hard to get us correct estimates.

In the middle of waiting, I contacted our HOA office. We had a problem. I was originally told that I could pick a builder not on the approved builders list for the neighborhood and get the new builder added easily. I was calling to tell the HOA who I selected as a builder and was told I could no longer pick someone not on the list. I thought I had clout; I thought my builder had clout. I contacted the builder to use his, and he was later approved to build in the neighborhood. Crisis averted. The HOA office just needed him to provide some paperwork.

Part of my mom’s bet was that I couldn’t contact the builder in order for him to meet my date I picked. And I didn’t. I just contacted him about the HOA issue to see if he had submitted his paperwork to the HOA office. He immediately called me and said he was working it and was sorry he was taking so long with the cost estimate. His office had just moved and he had no good excuse. This was June 30th. He asked if Mr. JCrew and I had any plans for the July 4th weekend. He had a few numbers to finish up and then we could meet. I said we were available all weekend. He then left it that he would call to let us know. We never received a call. I even emailed July 3rd to clarify what he meant by asking if we were staying in town and that we were still available to meet. I have still not ever heard back from that email.

I was disappointed, but quickly moved on. We had our back up builders waiting in the wings to talk to. And they were already on the approve builder’s list. Our first builder led us to our amazing designer, so if that was his role in the whole process, I am grateful.

The next builder on the list we called was able to meet with us on a Sunday. We met with him and his wife on July 13th and they have already impressed us. They were going to a home building convention two days after we met, and they were already promising to tell us if they could build our house within our budget within two days. I did have to email them to ask, but we got the green light. With a few changes we had mentioned at our meeting, they could build our house within our budget. He then gave us a realistic time frame of 3-4 weeks to generate a detailed budget we could take to our bank. Mr. Crew is getting anxious because of rates. We’re really in no hurry other than we don’t want to miss out on interest rates.

So, here we are… in the 3-4 week waiting time period. We have already had multiple accounts of communication so, we know they are working. I am considering it a birthday present. I don’t want to be anxiously waiting. I just know that I will not hear from them while I am still 31. It helps me stay mellow.

As time is passing, I am looking at more and more details and finalizing selections. As I’ve looked more into pictures the builder provided, the more I find out how much I like him. He built a showcase home in the 2010 Parade of Homes. I didn’t know it was his house until I saw pictures. I took a lot of pictures at his showcase home and put them in my package as things I wanted in the new home. I don’t know if he recognized his house or not. But to me, it’s another “God wink” that we are in the right direction.

We selected our lot in March 2013, and here we are July 2014 and still have not broken ground. There are so many things that pop up. I thought I was prepared and had planned for it all, but it is a learning process. I hope I haven’t bored you with details, but it’s where we are in the process for now.

We’ve never had a hard timeline, and for that I am grateful. Everything that is happening is happening with a purpose. The purpose may not be known, but we will see it eventually. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Little JCrew Update

Little JCrew has turned into a "Yes" Man. There is still a lot of "No's" spoken, but at least he's polite about it.

His "No" is drawn out as he shakes his head and the palms of his hands toward you. It's usually followed by, "I cannot." And there are a lot of times I am told, "Don't do that." If a parent wants to hear how they sound, all they have to do is listen to their child. I hear all kinds of phrases I didn't know I said.

A controlling personality has appeared now that he is potty-trained. There is new empowerment in this skill. Mr. JCrew and I do a lot wrong and Little JCrew is always correcting us. He's lucky we find it cute right now. However, we've already had to step in and tell him he can't boss his parents around.

Little JCrew discovered Buzz Lightyear and it's actually how we got him potty-trained. He played with it at a friend's house and we told him if he pooped on the potty, we would go get him a Buzz. One early morning he used the potty and we went straight to the store to fulfill our promise. Forty-five dollars later, we were the new owners of a Buzz Lightyear. The most expensive toy I have purchased, but worth it to have a potty-trained child. Little JCrew then taught Buzz how to use the potty.

I love the Spider-Man underwear!!

Little JCrew is still a picky eater. He has his favorites and Mac & Cheese is not one of them! He cannot be my child! I lived on Macaroni and Cheese. But when he does have a favorite, he goes into feast mode.

The kid LOVES soccer and is good at it. He loves being active. He runs when we go outside and appears to never tire. We started putting a ball in front of him, and he has feet skills. It was me that put a ball in front of him when Mr. JCrew was not around, so there was no influence by the soccer player in the family.

He plays baseball and loves to hit the ball and pitch it. He's also great at encouraging others. When his friends play ball, he tells them, "Great job" and claps for them. They don't even have to hit the ball to get that kind of encouragement. He even does this for Mr. Brigglesworth.

Mr. Brigglesworth may be the little brother, but it's Little JCrew that is the pesky one. Little JCrew will naturally take things from Mr. Brigglesworth and a fight will break out. Mr. Brigglesworth is mellow most of the time, but if he really wanted that something brother took away, he'll fight for it.

Little JCrew is the opposite of Mr. Brigglesworth when it comes to interaction with his Daddy. Little JCrew thrives on Mr. JCrew's silliness and is energized by the chaos. When you get him laughing, it only makes you laugh with him.

At church we are told that Little JCrew really gets into story-time and the singing of songs. This didn't surprise us as we see him sing and dance at home, until we realized... he has an audience! This kid hams it up when eyes are watching him. Might have to introduce him to some performing arts.

I cannot believe Little JCrew will be 3 in less than 5 weeks. I couldn't imagine life without him. He makes me feel special when it is just him and me (once Dad is home, I'm minced meat). He gives the sweetest kisses and says, "I love you." It's not often, so I soak it up.

He's an awesome big brother and comforts Mr. Brigglesworth when he cries. My favorite phrase is, "Don't worry. I promise." Melt my heart!

Meeting Cousin Kyleigh

This Fall he starts the 3-year old program at school. I am very excited to see him grow and learn new things. He just amazes me. I am so thankful God chose me to be his momma. I'm the lucky one.

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