Friday, March 28, 2014

Our Journey Home/Five on Friday: My Money Saving Tricks While We Build

I've always been a tight wad, but never to the extent that I am now.  There's something about knowing we will have a house payment double what we have been used to for the past 5 years in a few short months that has really put me into savings overdrive.  Most people cut corners when it comes to grocery shopping but that doesn't work for me because have you seen my husband lately?  Yeah, he's a beast.  So since that isn't an option (with the exception of coupons...I love coupons) these are our tricks...

While building, we live off of one income.  I go to the grocery store once a week and pay for that myself, other than that every single paycheck I get goes into a separate account.  An account that will be used for closing costs and the house payment once it starts coming our way.  All other bills (car payments, insurance, electric, cell phones, DirecTV, etc.) are paid out of Devin's income.  He probably hates it, but he's a spender.  I know deep down that if he has too much free money it will go towards unnecessary things.  Therefore, his money is channeled toward the bills.  I didn't force this on him by the way and I'm pretty sure he must feel like a total 'man's man' since he carries us financially.  Has to be good for his ego, right?

We split accounts.  The idea of a joint checking account was so appealing that I basically sprinted to the bank as soon as my last name changed to open one up.  Probably because when we first got married I was student teaching and had absolutely no income.  Well, except for a twenty dollar bill that my grandma would slip in my mailbox for me to use for food for the week while my husband was working out of town.  We sure have come a long way.  Fast forward five years, and we were high-tailing it back to the bank to separate our accounts. It was fun while it lasted, and having two paychecks dumped into our account every week looked really good on paper.  But the downside of that is twice as much money was flying out of the account at the same time it was being put in.  It is so much easier to forget about saving money when a nice chunky number is staring at you and you know next week two more paychecks will be put in to replace what you've spent.  There's so much more accountability when you have separate accounts and you know that the only reason money is being spent is because you're the one spending it.  Wake up call!

We hate credit cards.  I mean hate them.  We have several open in case of emergencies, but we don't owe a penny on a single one.  We don't believe in spending money that we don't have, with the exception of our home and cars.  Home and car loans are enough for us, thank you.  I'm not trying to pay interest on things I don't need (like clothes and junk).

"Do I really need that?"  I love to shop, but when it comes to actually pulling the trigger and making the rarely happens anymore.  Some would call it torture...browsing for hours only to leave a store/website empty handed.  But I call it therapy.  I am teaching myself that I don't need everything that I want.  Self induced retail torture builds character, y'all.  In college, I swear I worked just to buy new outfits (outfits that I couldn't find right now if I had hours to dig for them).  So what's the point in blowing my hard earned money on something that will be in the bottom of a plastic container in my basement three years from now?  There is no point.  On the rare occasion that I do buy clothes for myself, they are from TJMaxx or H&M...or straight off of a clearance rack somewhere.

We set savings goals.  We know exactly how much we need for closing costs, things for our new home, and the savings cushion we are comfortable with when that dreaded house payment starts rolling our way.  I've turned it into a fun little game.  I have the number that I want in our savings account written down and it's like a race against time to reach that amount before our house is built!  So fun!  And I just realized... I am such a nerd. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Not again.

You have got to be kidding me.  I woke up yesterday morning and saw the snow falling and accumulating once again.  It's Spring.  I consider where I live to be in the South.  WHY is it still snowing?  I knew they were calling for a light dusting and only predicted that it would stick to grassy surfaces, which was almost okay with me because I just knew it would be gone by tomorrow.  But guess what?  There were 4 frickin' inches of snow on the ground, on my deck, on our dirt pile, and covering our footers.  So as far as house progress goes, you guessed it.  There is none to report.  Oh wait, the electric company did install our temporary pole so we could have a little electricity flowing our way when things get moving...IF they ever get moving.  Leave it to me and Devin to pick the longest winter ever to start building our house.
No, I don't have tractor trailers chilling in my backyard.  I'm at work looking out of the office window.  Crying inside because I really just want a little bit of sunshine and warmth.

Kollyns and I even painted our nails in bright Spring colors Monday in hopes that the snow would decide to skip us and our springy moods.  It totally didn't work.

It's gonna be okay though.  I mean it has to get warm and sunshiny eventually right?  We will have our home sooner or later.  This is probably just the Lord's way of teaching me patience, and giving us a few extra months to save money for new furniture, closing costs, a savings cushion and what not.  He always knows best, so I'm trusting there is a reason for all of this yucky weather.  There has to be.  Anyway, I'm going to stop whining now and keep praying that if we give ourselves enough hot pink Mani/Pedi's that eventually it will stop snowing and I can retire my North Face until at least 9 months from now.

But until then, we might as well play in the snow since we can't make it go away. :)

And who knew a solo cup and a spoon were the two best snow toys ever?  Kollyns just loves the simple things.  My kinda girl.

Monday, March 24, 2014

An Unlikely Love: The beginning

I'm telling our story, not because it's an interesting one...but so I can remember it.

Here it goes...

He was everything I knew I didn't need to want.  He had a reputation that should have made me run a hundred miles per hour in the opposite direction.  A stereotypical "Mr. Popular" in every sense of the term.  Quarterback, Homecoming King, blonde hair, blue eyes, partier, and wilder than your average eighteen year old.   I thought I hated him.  He was a cocky, arrogant player as far as I could tell.  For reasons I could never entertain, he made just about every girl in our school weak in the knees, but his charm never phased me.  Especially in Math Analysis when he slid his chair next to mine and smoothly asked to copy my answers.  I rolled my eyes and promptly asked the teacher to move him across the room, which she did.    I was his opposite...honest to a fault.  I wouldn't even chew gum in class because I was scared to death of getting caught.  I was never late and if I missed an assignment it made me sick to the stomach.  I think I went to two football games throughout my entire high school career.  I was boring, predictable and preferred my pajamas to cute little outfits on any given day.  I wasn't popular, but I was well-known as a "good girl".  Just standing next to Devin Almond in the hallway would have made me feel like I was tarnishing my squeaky clean reputation.  

Don't ask me why, but every now and then I would let my mind go there.  I would bump into him in the halls and for about two quick seconds I would wonder what it would be like to date a guy like him.  Then I would shake it off like a bad habit because I knew he was out of reach for me.  Not because I didn't think I deserved him, but because I could never really justify him deserving me.  From what I had heard he had always treated everyone he dated like complete crap, and I'm not about that life.  I was way above having any guy making me look like a fool, I was perfectly capable of that all by myself.   After all, I fell down the cafeteria stairs and tripped over my own feet on a regular basis.  And for reasons I won't get into, I shouldn't have even been thinking about him at all.

But for a period of time I couldn't help it.  Something about him made my mind begin to go to that place I hated for it to go.  I would randomly run into him at school in places he normally wouldn't be, I would pull up at the one main stop light we have in our town and he would be right there in his black mustang waving me out into the road ahead of him.  Certain songs would come on the radio and I would just start to think about him.  I barely knew him, and my mind just kept going there.  But before I could even wrap my head around where my mind was drifting off to, I would slam that door shut.  I knew better.  Girls like me didn't date guys like him.  I would be setting myself up for heartbreak.  I convinced myself that the thought wasn't even worth entertaining because we would never work.  Even worse,  I probably had never even crossed that boy's mind and here he had pulled up a permanent seat in my head. 

So I dropped it.  Time passed and I didn't think twice about him. 

And we finally made it to the end of our Senior year.  We all loaded into the buses in alphabetical order to head to the local 4H campground for our pre-graduation picnic.  My friend Ashley and I were on the same bus and spent the ride looking through our yearbooks and getting excited about graduating and leaving ACHS in the past.  It was a great day spent with people that I knew I would miss when that final bell rang, but Devin wasn't one of them.  He hadn't crossed my mind since I permanently booted him from it.  The day came to a close and they were rounding everyone up at the pool area to load into the buses and head back to the school.  I was standing next to the pool and someone came up from behind me, wrapped their arms around my chest and swiftly jerked me to the edge of the concrete and threatened to throw me in.  It was him.  Shirtless and looking like something that had the potential to destroy me.  I fought him off before he even came close to letting me go, locked eyes with him and we both started laughing.  That's when I felt something and there was no going back from there.  I didn't care about anything but getting closer to him.

The bus arrived back at the school, I jumped in my silver Honda and drove straight home completely dazed and confused about what I had just felt.  And I felt a twinge of sickness in my gut because I knew he probably didn't feel the same way.  No sooner did I walk in the house, the phone rang.  "Hey Kelsey, it's Devin...I've been thinking about you."  Apparently while I was on the way home, Devin had already called Ashley and gotten my number.  I couldn't breathe. be continued.
If you would like to follow along, a link to the rest of the story (as it is written) is in the sidebar or you can click here!

[Writing this as a 26 year old feels so weird and high school-y.  But I still remember exactly how I felt in those moments, and it's pretty fun re-living it as I tell it.  The purpose of writing this is so I can still feel this way and remember it as I tell this very same story when my husband and I are sitting on the riverbank rocking in our chairs 50 years from now.  Thanks for bearing with me. :)]

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weekend Recap

Wait, it's Wednesday?  How did that happen?  Well, Monday it snowed and I was in a bad mood because it snowed and I just want it to not snow anymore, okay?  Because I want my house built like yesterday.  Tuesday I wasn't in the mood to blog.  Do you ever have waves of bloggers block?  I do.  All. The. Time.  And when that happens I take a break, and I don't feel bad about it.  After all, it's my blog and I'm not going to force myself to write something that I'm not feeling.  So there's justification for why I've been MIA for a few days.

This past weekend was beautiful.  And when we get beautiful days in between snow days, we make sure we enjoy them.

Saturday after we worked out, we decided it was way too pretty to just grill on the deck.  That would be way too easy. 

In true backwoods fashion, we loaded up our portable grill, chairs, a foldable table, burgers and hotdogs, & threw a few fishing poles in the back of the truck and headed down to our land to grill out by the pond.  I'm sure the people that currently live around our future home were shaking their heads wondering what the heck we were doing and probably are now contemplating putting their homes on the market because we will be moving in soon.  Ha. 
(My sweet grandma, cousin & Kollyns were all very willing participants in our little outing.  Nothing beats the simple life.)
While we were on our lot, we couldn't pass up the chance to walk around our dirt hole because that's still all we have.  A big dirt hole.  I keep telling myself that this crazy, bipolar weather is slowly but surely teaching me patience.  By the time our house is actually built, I'm convinced my patience will be perfected.

So for now I think I'll just breathe really deeply,  pray for some sunshine, and take advantage of a few photo ops.  Because one day, I will love the fact that I have photos of our little girl walking around the dirt that our new home was built on. Yes, yes I will.

And excuse her outfit.  These are what she calls her "wurtout (workout) clothes" and she picked them out...with the crocs.  I couldn't complain though, because I totally would've been opposed to letting her wear her new tennis shoes in the dirt.  I love her.  So much.

As far as home progress goes... here it is Wednesday and we still only have footers.  I love these footers, yes I do. But we were supposed to have basement walls poured on Monday.  Yep, that didn't happen because remember it snowed on Monday?  Blah.  Oh well, I guess we will just enjoy the dirt while we wait.  Yayyyy (not).  Patience, patience, patience.

And just as a little reminder that time really does fly.  We went to my cousin Emily's 18th birthday party on Saturday.  She's eighteen.  And that makes me feel ancient.  We love you so much Emily Danielle!  And I'm so incredibly proud of you beautiful girl!  BFF's for life!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Five on Friday: 9 Ways Being a Mom Has Changed Me

I do not break rules.  Unless of course they are my own apparently.  This was supposed to be my Five on Friday post.  Today is Friday, but I'm not really sure where the five comes into play with this let's just go with it.

Sweet Kollyns has changed my life in so many ways.  I have never enjoyed anything as much as I enjoy being her mommy and learning from her and watching her grow.  It's crazy how much every part of every thing that I do from the smallest to the biggest things has flipped completely over the past 3 years.  I just started thinking about this 10 minutes ago and I've already come up with 9 ways.  I tried to keep it at 5 for Five on Friday purposes, but I just couldn't...and if I allow myself to think about this any longer it will end up being "99 Ways Being a Mom Has Changed Me."  So I'm just gonna stop thinking and start typing, mmmk?

I spend more time thinking about her outfits than I do my own.  I used to plan my outfits a day in advance, lay them out the night before I went somewhere,  buy a new outfit for every date with Devin,  and write my beach outfits in a notebook for our 7 day vacation (isn't that the oddest thing you've ever heard?).  Now I spend a total of 10 seconds throwing on clothes everyday and don't even think about my outfits until it's time to put them on.  I haven't shopped for myself (like really shopped) since last July. If I buy something for myself it's on a whim and usually from the clearance rack.  Kollyns' wardrobe currently takes my full attention and all of my extra cash and I am fully okay with that.

I actually keep groceries in the house now.  When we first got married, poor Devin probably stayed hungry.  I loathed grocery shopping and we practically lived off of peanut butter sandwiches and spaghettios.  I know, I sucked.  But now grocery shopping is not even something I think about and dread.  It's like I just automatically drive there every Sunday after church because I know I have to stock up on food for the week so we always have snacks, fresh milk and things for Kollyns on hand.  If Devin had known this 6 years ago, he probably would've planted a baby in my belly on day one. :)

I don't watch anything on TV.  Unless it's Yo Gabba Gabba, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Doc McStuffins.  By the time I work, get home from the gym, do laundry, cook dinner, bathe and play with Kollyns...The Bachelor, KUWTK, and The Vampire Diaries take a complete backseat in my life.  I used to skip workouts and dash home from college just to raid my DVR because I couldn't wait to see the episodes I missed commercial free.  Holy crap.  Is that really what I used to live for?  Thank you Kollyns, for showing me that there's so much more to life than reality TV.  Although if I'm home sick from work one day and limited to the couch there's a 99% chance I'll flip right to those shows I was once obsessed with.  I can't help it okay?

I get up early.  I went from sleeping in until 11 on Saturdays to rising at 5am to get to the gym, do laundry, get ready for the day, fix breakfast and do my devotions before she even wakes up.  And that is so not like Kels-before-baby.  I actually thought I needed 12+ hours of sleep every night.  Ha, what a joke.  I'm currently running on 5 hours of sleep total over the past 4 days.  Not Kollyns' fault though, well one night was...but the other 3 nights were my fault completely because this time change has killed me. 

I think.  Before I speak, act or anything.  I know she is a sponge and everything that I do or say is sure to be absorbed by her immediately after it's said or done.  I also know that I'm the example she will follow so I better set a good one.  And I'm careful, so careful.  I'm so much more mindful of our surroundings and I'm always thinking one step ahead and preparing for something to happen that might send me into mama bear mode.  I used to never think about anything or pay attention to anything around me.  It's really a wonder I survived adolescence.  

I'm far more productive.  I used to come home from work and take a nap because I thought I needed one.  Now I come home from work and do 500 chores before I even realize I'm doing them.  I used to get home from class & sit on the sofa and watch my reality TV shows one right after another with chocolate milk and oreos in my lap because I was just so drained from the day that it took all the strength I could muster just to dip my oreos in milk.  I can't even believe work and school used to make me tired.  It's pretty hilarious now that I think about it.

I am emotionally stronger.  I used to cry if I broke my nail or a zit popped up in the wrong place.  Now I feel like I'm strong down to my very core.  The postpartum days that follow having a kid and going through 60 different emotions per hour really equipped me to handle things I never thought I had the capacity to deal with.  I remember coming home from the hospital and feeling so grateful and so blissfully happy but at the same time feeling so overwhelmed and overcome with pure fear because I was now responsible for this little being.  I'm glad that I eventually figured out that I had to pray my worries away, instead of letting them consume me.  But those first days of dealing with all of those emotions at once on top of getting no sleep and figuring out how to breastfeed, change diapers and find time to take a shower and do everything a mom is expected to do... really kick started my journey as a mom and prepared me for ALOT.

Her needs always come first.  She has taught me how to be unselfish.  From the first time my eyes met hers I knew that I would always put her needs way ahead of my own.  When I wake up my first thoughts aren't about my day or my plans, they are about what I can do for Kollyns and how I can make the most of my time with her.  The love I have for her has revealed that I had entirely too much love for myself before she came along.  She has taught me that so much joy can be found in doing even the simplest things for the ones I love like cooking meals or folding clothes.  She has made me a better wife and daughter because of it too.

I pray diligently.  Before I had Kollyns prayer was something I did at night before bed.  And I'm so ashamed to admit that.  Now I catch myself praying without even thinking about it.  It started the second I found out I was pregnant and I began praying for her and thanking God for her.  I was so fully dependent on God taking care of me and Kollyns and watching over us and protecting this precious life growing inside of me that I found myself in constant communication with Him.  And in developing that habit, I've found that now I talk to God about everything and thank Him for everything all day long!

Happy Friday ya'll!

(Photo-Kollyns at 7 months.  I'm obsessed.)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Our Journey Home: Cost Estimates & Choosing a Builder

When we first sold our house, we chose 3 plans that ranged from 1800sqft to 2700sqft that we could use for comparison when getting cost estimates from builders.  We hadn't chosen our final plan yet, but we had to have something to use as a guide for what we could afford.  I'll refer to the first builder as Builder A and the second builder will be referred to as Mike because that's really his name.  Ha.  Ballpark figures from builders upon first meeting told us that the 2700sqft home was OUT OF THE QUESTION.   That home came in at $350,000 and $397,000 from Mike & Builder A, respectively.  Screwww that.  I want a nice house, but I'm not trying to go broke or anything.  So we started working with the 1800sqft model and figured we would work our way up from there if the estimates came in low.  For price quotes we gave them a general idea of what we wanted in our home and they shot back a general idea of how much it would cost to build it.  Nothing set in stone, nothing signed. 

This is the list I gave as far as what I had to have in addition to all of the general must haves:

Poured concrete basement walls (9ft)
Plumbing roughed into basement slab and framed for future finishing purposes
Hardwood floors throughout entire home, bathrooms will be tiled
Brick or stone to grade, Siding exterior, & dry stacked stone on front gables and on interior fireplace
Architectural 30 year roof shingles
High grade custom kitchen cabinets
Granite countertops in kitchen and all bathrooms
Stainless appliances

I know, that list is vague...but it's what I gave the builders to work with... and work with it they did.

Builder A came back with a quote of $325,000 plus $10,000 for well/septic, $5,000 for a graded driveway with gravel, and $2000 to prepare the yard.  That came to a whopping total of $342,000 just for the construction of an 1800 sqft house plus a bonus room.  And I knew we had to have a driveway because of neighborhood restrictions, so add that to the running total of $43,000 that we had already paid for land and we would've been sinking $385,000 (not even including a driveway) into an 1800 sqft home.  There is no way in HE(double hockey sticks) that we would pay that.  Even a dummy like me knows the house wouldn't appraise for that so it would be beyond crazy to spend that to build it.  Don't get me wrong, Builder A was super nice and his work is awesome....but seriously we couldn't see that happening.

I felt defeated and sad and started wishing we had never even sold our house.

Then my Daddy, who I'm convinced knows every person in our state and has limitless connections, hooked us up with one of his golfing buddies.  Mike...A contractor that spends his days building homes in a very nice neighborhood 1 hour from our town.  The standard selling price in this neighborhood is $315,000 for brand new houses that were identical to the size & style we were interested in including the land, many of the amenities I requested, AND a concrete driveway. Shut the front door!

Dad took him the 2286 sqft house plan and my list, and he came in at $260,000.  Now that's more like it.  We met with him and he gave us a tour of two homes he was building that were nearing completion, and we were super impressed with his work, his go-getter personality, and his prompt communication with us when I emailed or called him.  We knew we could afford more than $260,000 so we continued looking through plans until we discovered the plan we ultimately chose.  We chose Mike as our builder of course, and after meeting with him several times and discussing what we wanted in detail our cost-to build landed us right on top of $300,000.  So with our land and our home, we will have spent $343,000 total. (Update:  We went over that price!)

So far we have been completely satisfied with our builder because he keeps us in the know and calls us before any decisions are made.  He responds to my texts and phone calls within 5 seconds, and he is super knowledgeable about everything that we don't have a clue about.  When choosing a builder, I feel like communication and quality of work are key...but ultimately his reasonable pricing won us over.  Cheaper isn't always better, I know this.  But we know what we are getting because we have seen his work firsthand, so for that reason I'm very comfortable with our choice. 

In other news, the weather has finally given us a break and cleared up enough to work with the hole that they were digging in the ground 2 weeks ago.  We have footers y'all!  If you haven't built a house before and you're anything like me you're probably all like "What the what is a footer?"  I said the same thing.  But now that I actually see them in the ground I understand their purpose.  They are like an anchor in the ground for our future home.  Footers really shouldn't make me this excited, but we ride by our lot everyday on the way to work and just seeing action on it makes me so very happy. WooFrickinHoo!

This is Where We Started
Land & A Plan
This Post:  Cost Estimates & Choosing a Builder
Coming Up:  Detailed Cost Breakdown

Monday, March 10, 2014

Five on Friday [on Monday]: My Weird Teeth Whitening Routine

I'm kind of a white teeth fanatic...always have been.  A smile can brighten someone's day or make them run for the hills, it's that effective. I have tried every trick on Pinterest trying to get my teeth as white as can be... and some work wonders, and some just don't work at all.  But I've found one that I've stuck with over the past year, and it has worked great and didn't make me feel like my teeth were about to explode in pain caused by sensitivity.  And I have fairly weak teeth, so that's saying something.  So for this week's five on Fri er Monday, here are the five ways I whiten/prevent stains...
1.  I drink my coffee through a straw.  If you know me, you know this.  If you don't know me, you probably know this if you've read the 'about me' section of my blog.  The straw goes behind my teeth so the coffee doesn't wash over them when I drink it.  You are probably 'LOL'ing right now...but I'm completely for real.  And I don't even care how ridiculous I look strategically drinking my coffee through a straw. So there.

2.  I avoid tea and dark drinks.  My one cup of coffee a day is the only dark liquid you will see me drinking.  I keep my Aladdin double walled tumbler with me at all times full of ice water and so I have no excuse to resort to the drinks when I roll through a drive thru if I'm on the road. 

3. Crest 3D White Whitestrips Intensive Professional Effects.  These things are expensive, and it really pains me to buy them, but it's cheaper than going to the dentist for whitening and they work amazingly well.  I used to have extreme sensitivity after treatments until I figured out how to cut the whitestrip to fit perfectly on the front of my teeth so I didn't have to fold them under to cover the back side of my teeth.  Zero sensitivity since then. 

4.  Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White Toothpaste.  I brush my teeth 3 or more times a day with this.  All of the toothpastes in the 3D White line have different percentages of surface stain removal on the label.  This one is the best at 90%! :)

5.  Chew Trident White.  Okay, so this one probably is not the least bit effective as far as whitening teeth, but when I can't get to my makes my mouth feel super clean.  That's gotta mean something right?  I buy the value sized bag because it's way cheaper and my purse is the size of a mini-suitcase so it fits right in there.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Our Journey Home: Land & A Plan

It's kind of a big deal choosing the place you want to build a home.  And it's an even bigger deal choosing the exact plan that's perfect for you and your family.  I began looking through house plans the year after we moved into our first home because I knew it was our starter home and eventually we wanted to build.  I never thought we would ever get the nerve to sell it, because our lives were so 'financially sound' while we were living there.  We comfortably afforded our mortgage and also had nice cars, a steadily growing savings cushion, and spending money too.  Our house was nice, and I was completely content there in every aspect of the word.  I took pride in my home. After all, it is my favorite place in the world to be.  It may have been small, but I was proud of it.  I kept it sparkly clean and actually enjoyed cleaning it because it was ours, we had worked hard for it and fixed it up and it meant a lot to me.  Leaving it was a huge step, I mean it was more like a leap over the friggin' grand canyon.  We are now stepping into the unknown.  We are stepping out of our comfort zone and diving into a situation that will be quite a bit more financially strapping which kinda scares the crap out of me.  But thankfully I have a strange addiction to saving money and budgeting, so I know we will be just fine.  Still scary, nonetheless. 

(Let me just apologize for preluding all of these posts with my endless thought process, I really can't help myself.  If you want to get to the goods just scroll right on past the first page-length paragraph next time.)

Choosing land was quite a task for us.  My husband is a country boy.  I'm a country club girl.  See where I'm going with this?  He has lived by the river all of his life and spent his days growing up fishing and shooting his guns, riding 4-wheelers and hunting.  I've lived by the golf course all of my life.  My extracurricular activities didn't look anything like his if you know what I mean.  I enjoy doing those things with him now, but I couldn't see myself stuck in a house on a back road in the middle of nowhere for the rest of my life.  Reason number one for that is because Kollyns hated riding in the car from month 8-month 18.  If we have another kid, I cannot imagine enduring a 25 minute car ride every time I wanted to enter back into civilization with a screaming baby in the backseat.  Just saying. 

So we compromised, kind of.  We bought 3.2 acres 1 mile past the country club.  But it has a country feel, and we have a pond in our back yard.  Raise your hand if you think that's fair?  I just knew you would agree with me.  Thank you, I love you too. 

So here it is if you don't the sickening price of $43,000 (gasp).  Yep, made me sick.  For a 3 acre piece of grass and a pond.  I had no idea land was so outrageous.  But I must say, it's very pretty and I'm over the top happy about where our house will sit...and the fact that the land falls perfectly for a full walkout basement.  Now my husband can finish that and I will have somewhere to send him when he's a bad boy.  We both win.

And after beating our heads against the wall and scrolling through 18,000 house plans.  We finally found one we both agreed on.  Frank Betz is my fave, and I found this jewel on the very last page (out of 100+ pages) of house plans that fit my search criteria.  We spoke with contractors before choosing a plan so we would have some sort of idea of a price per sqft.  We knew we couldn't afford more than a 2300 sqft home, because we want all super nice things inside and hardwood flooring throughout.  This one comes in at 2286 total on the main floors (1544 first floor & 742 second floor), with a full finished basement eventually which will add 1500 more sqft.  One step at a time though, the basement will most likely be a never ending ongoing project for the husband.
The two front gables that are bricked in the photo will be stacked rock on our home and the center panel between the two large windows will be taken out and that will also be rocked.  The base of the house will be brick and the rest will be siding.  The colors I choose will be a surprise, to you and me stay tuned.  I can assure you they will be neutral and not gray because my last house was gray and I'm tired of gray, okay?  Okay.

We love this home because the floor plan is extremely open and the main rooms are only separated by columns.  We will be using white round 10inch columns throughout so they will be nice and chunky which I love.  The knee wall between the breakfast nook and living room will not exist in my house.  That's just something else I would trip over, so no.  And the kitchen island will be turned 90 degrees and centered so it will function as a serving bar. 

And for the newbies, house plans will run you about $1000, so budget for that as well.  And plans that include a basement like ours, will be even more than that. 

I already love our new home and they haven't even poured the basement yet.  It's just a hole in the ground, but it's our hole in the ground and I love it.  I can't wait to watch the walls go up!

This is Where We Started
This post:  Land & a Plan
Choosing a builder and getting cost estimates.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Our Journey Home: This is where we started.

When I tell people we are building a home, I usually get something along the lines of:

"Have you lost your mind? I hope your marriage survives this." 
"Aren't you so excited?  You are going to have so much fun handpicking every single thing for your new house!" 

I agree with both so I just nod and say "pretty much" to either. Because they're both true, and honestly I do feel like it will put a tiny bit of strain on my marriage but we will have fun during the process as well.  Devin & I have similar tastes when it comes to what we want, and we've already renovated an older home without killing each we should be golden when it comes to building one from the ground up.  I hope.

I have always found blogs about building and renovating homes really interesting.  Especially the honest, detailed ones.  Maybe because we have renovated one in the past, and are building one now...I don't know.  I just know it's pretty neat to watch the whole process unfold from the ground up and I've learned a lot from 'building bloggers.' 

I'm not a huge fan of telling our financial biz to the world, but I think it's super helpful when the cost breakdown and steps are shown on these blogs, so newbies can get a general idea of what they will have to dish out for everything before they decide to take the leap into building a home.  Plus, all of this info is in the local paper so if you know us...all you have to do is look up the local deed transfers and building permit records and it will be right there in plain sight.  So since I have no control over that and it's already out there for the locals to see, I might as well share it on here too.

I am going to be honest and detailed with my posts about our new home.  I plan on venting all of my frustrations and whining about the crappy parts, as well as spewing my excitement and showing off the exciting parts.   I will reveal every single detail on here, and I hope you don't puke because you get sick of hearing about it.  Bear with me people, it's going to be a long ride...but I hope you'll come along because I'm so excited that my insides are freaking back flipping right now.

So this is where I'm going to start.  How did we get here? 

Devin traveled with a nuclear company for 3 years before we got married and built his credit and saved enough money to buy and renovate this home.  Just a charming little 1200sqft fixer upper in the middle of town for $94,000.  It needed everything re-done.  But we saw the potential, and since I was a Junior in college with a part time job...he took the plunge and bought it on his own at the age of 20. 
(This is the best picture I could find of it because we didn't take any pics pre-renovation.  I know, not smart.)
A new roof, new windows, new doors, new railings, duct work, heat pump, landscaping, stacked rock fireplace & gas logs, privacy fence, stripped and renovated interior, concrete driveway, stamped concrete sidewalk, 300sqft addition plus so much more later. 
We had this....



It turned into a charming and cozy home and we enjoyed it for 5 years before we started feeling like we had outgrown it.  It was hard for me to handle the idea of possibly letting it go because it was our first home.  All of our first memories with Kollyns are there, and our heart was there.  But I knew we would have to move on eventually, and the idea of 1500 more sqft plus closet space and storage (which we had none of) was pretty appealing to me.

We listed it in April of 2013 with a realtor and it was sold by August for $155,000.  Based on the unsteadiness of the current market, we got one heck of an amazing price for our home and I was happy to let it go for 155.  But if you take into account the fact that we spent almost $50,000 renovating it, and refinanced once to cut down the mortgage term, then paid the realtor... we didn't really make much of a profit.  But we did clear a good amount of money to use for our new home, plus the low house payment while we lived there allowed us to save a lot as well.

I have my husband to thank for getting us started off right at a young age and investing our money into something we could sell for a return later.  Renovating was a pain in the butt and I hope we never have to do that again, but I'm very thankful we were able to get out of our home what we put into it. 

And that's why we are able to build right now. YAY!

And for now we are living in a rather gigantic empty house owned by one of our family members, so we don't have to pay rent and we are able to save money while we build.  It makes me miss our cozy little house...I'll always miss it.  But I'm getting pretty excited about all of the memories we will make in the new one. :)

Next Up:  Choosing Land & House Plans

Monday, March 3, 2014


Much to my dismay and surprise, my husband recently came home from work with a new addition to our family.  A Redbone Coonhound named Copper.  We already have two small dogs so I might have pitched a little bit of a fit when he introduced me to this new mouth to feed pet.  Once he told me the story about how Copper's owner no longer wanted him because he was "no good" at coon hunting, I started to feel bad for the little fella.  Devin brought him to the door on a leash and he immediately cowered as if he thought I was going to hit him instead of pet him.  He was afraid of me, and my heart started to break because it made me wonder how he was treated before Devin saved him.  From that point forward I have loved that dog as much as I love my two that sleep in the bed with us at night.  Even though he is a hunting dog, he has quickly turned into one of our pets and Kollyns' new best friend.  With a little love and attention, he has become the most loving dog & pretty good at hunting too.  Last night I started thinking about the lessons I've learned over the years from the many dogs we have owned and loved.  Dogs have the simplest, most carefree lives and we can really learn a lot from them. Like...
Even the little moments are worth celebrating.  When we get home our dogs jump, bark, and spin around in excitement just because we're at home.  They have their own little celebration every single time we open the front door. 
Appreciate the presence of the ones you love.  My dogs are so content when we are home.  They curl up with us under a blanket, and will lay there for hours in complete peace and quiet because they are just so happy that we are with them in that moment.  They appreciate us just being there.  How often do we take those moments for granted with our loved ones?   
Unconditional love is the best kind.  My dogs love me to pieces no matter what I look like or how much attention I've given them that day.  They don't expect anything in return for the love they give us.  It's really quite sweet when you think about it.
Forgive quickly.  When our dogs get punished for doing something they aren't supposed to, they immediately forget about it and jump into our arms for more love.  They never ever hold grudges.  Because after all, the grudge only hurts the one holding onto it anyway.
Be trusting when it's earned, even if you've been hurt before.  It's obvious Copper has been hurt in the past, but it only took a week for us to earn his trust.  Now he gets excited when he sees us instead of running away.  He doesn't let his past affect his love for his new family because he has allowed himself to trust that we will treat him how he should be treated.  How many who have been hurt open that door back up so easily?  Not many.
Be loyal.  If given the choice all of our dogs would choose us every single time.  They are loyal to the ones who take care of them and they will be that way until the end.
Protect the ones you love.  Enough said.  It comes so naturally to them to take care of and protect us.  We should all be this way about our families.
Drop everything and play.  If you open the door to play and run outside, FinLee & BroDee will drop whatever they are doing and jet out the door to fresh air and open fields.  And they will play until they can't play anymore.  A little bit of fresh air and fun is good for the soul.
Be compassionate.  When I'm sick, sad or dogs are the first ones to pick up on it.  They curl up around me and rest their little heads on my lap and just look up at me as if they would do anything to make me feel better again.  We should all have hearts like theirs.
When not-so-great things happen, kick some grass over that shiz and move on.  Couldn't help it, I saw that one on Pinterest.  But isn't it so true?
Things don't matter.  My dogs would rather chew up 15 pairs of old socks than play with the brightest, shiniest most expensive ball ever made.  They take delight in the simplest things, shouldn't we all do the same?
Who knew dogs could be so inspirational?
Happy Monday y'all.  From me & my little jean-jacket twin. ;)