Friday, July 6, 2018

Homeowners

Hi friends! I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to finally have some GOOD news to share! Things have been tense around here to say the least...that's no secret. In my last Life Lately post I mentioned that we were trying to buy a house. Well, we are now officially homeowners!


That cute little pink and white chevron key has been on my key ring for just about a year now. It doesn't unlock anything yet...it's just one of those keys with designs on them that you can select in the hardware department. It hasn't been cut yet, but it will be soon. See, my husband gave it to me last year. We moved into this rental house knowing at the end of our lease it would be time to buy, but I was feeling impatient and pissy (as usual). So one day he came home with this key and said "I'm going to buy you a house next year." Cute, right?

It's been a long time coming and it's been quite a journey to get here. There were a few times when I thought it would never happen and I gave up hope. We had tons of roadblocks thrown our way and it took a lot of time and work to get to where we needed to be financially. We've come a long way, we still have a long way to go...but we did it! We may have done a lot of things ass-backwards, but we reached this goal and bought a home for our family. At long last, we won't be eternal renters after all. 

Fun fact about the new house: we bought it from our friends. You guys, I really truly think things happen for a reason and that timing is everything. Last time I mentioned us buying a house on the blog, I talked about how we'd missed out on an awesome house we'd fallen in love with after a low-ball appraisal that left us really hurt and frustrated. We had our hearts set on this "dream house" and were naive in thinking that because our offer was immediately accepted that we'd just glide through the rest of the process without any issues. Gosh, we were so clueless! 

Anyway, the day we'd put that offer in an old friend on Facebook messaged me and asked if we were still looking for a house. I've known this gal forever (we lived a block away from each other and rode the same bus to elementary school) and she ended up marrying a friend of my husband. Small world, right? That's north Idaho for you, haha. They're a military family and they own a house close to here in a nearby town that they'd been renting out for years (when the army sent them all over the country). They'd actually hit us up a few times when they needed new tenants or when they knew we were looking for a place, but the timing and logistics never worked out. Well, here she was, telling me her tenants were breaking their lease and they were thinking of selling their house- were we interested? I told her thanks but no thanks because we'd just had our offer accepted on the dream house.  

Well, three weeks later that house completely fell through and I was devastated. And mad. Really mad because I felt like it wasn't fair. I didn't want to start all over scouring the internet for new listings and jumping in the car with four kids to race to see it before anyone else.

Then I remembered my friend messaging me about wanting to list her house. I had completely forgotten about it because I was so hyper-focused on the ill-fated dream house! It was May 23rd that I messaged her asking if they were still selling the house. She quickly replied that she still had tenants, but that they were moving out "soon," and then they wanted to list the house for sale in the coming weeks. Perfect! 

Within a few days we were driving out to the their rental to take a look at it. I knew it was a cute house. I remembered seeing a few pictures of it on Facebook back when they first had it built (2010) but I didn't know any of the specifics and my memory really sucks these days. The home information Zillow was totally inaccurate because it hadn't been sold since it was initially bought and the basement was initially unfinished. So the square footage was off, the room numbers were off, and the photos they showed were very...lacking to say the least (not pretty at all!) But my friend assured me to just go see it for myself and that they were just awful photos. I knew it had been a rental for a while and that it probably needed some TLC, but it had a lot of potential and the price was good. 


We drove out to the house, spent just a few minutes walking through it to get a feel for the size and layout, counted the bedrooms and bathrooms, checked out the backyard, and saw the neighborhood. I know it looks quite small from the outside (that was my first impression) but that's because you only see the shorter end of the house from the front. It goes back quite a ways though and has a full basement. It definitely has space for a family of 6. It has 4 bedrooms with 1 unfinished downstairs, so that gave us the 5 bedrooms we need without any kids having to double up. It also has a bonus little "nook" or walk-in closet sized room that my husband can totally use to set up his art studio. It's pretty small and it doesn't have a window, but it's big enough for his set up, has tons of electrical outlets for extra lighting and everything else, and it's got a door that can close and lock so we can keep kids out of it (something his current space doesn't have). So that's a bonus "6th" room  (that doesn't technically count as room), and it also has a huge basement family room. When we saw that room down there we knew that was it. We could totally see ourselves in that house. It wasn't totally perfect, but it had pretty much all of the must-haves and it was in a great neighborhood. We wanted it!


From there, I messaged my friend and said "We definitely want it! How do we do this?" She replied with "Let's get the ball rolling then. No need to even list if ya'll want it!" And that was pretty much that! It was May 28th when we saw the house and then we signed all of the paperwork and closed on June 28th. Done and done. I mean, obviously there was a lot that went on in the last month (hence me still being MIA and wanting to rip my hair out/cry every day!) but as far as buying a house goes? This was probably the best way to do it. We didn't haggle. We didn't have to negotiate anything, everyone was completely cool and cooperative the entire way, we communicated what needed to be done, and we just went through the list of things to do as quickly and painlessly as possible. I'm thrilled that it worked out. I mean seriously- after all these years...for us to end up buying that house (that we'd talked about renting before) and the timing of it and everything...it just couldn't have worked out more perfectly. Oh, and the icing on the cake? After we closed they told us they wanted to buy us a brand new dishwasher. Because the one currently in there is mismatched from having to be replaced multiple times from prior tenants. Talk about best sellers ever! 

Looking back, the dream house wasn't so dreamy. It was only 4 bedrooms and it didn't have the bonus space for my husband. It was also on the corner of a busy street, which I know would have bugged me so much. I don't like traffic driving by. I get mad when people drive too fast in my neighborhood. My gut had told me not to get that house and I talked myself back into it because it had a few other upgrades I wanted and I didn't want anyone else to scoop it up. But a concession like that...being on the corner of a busy street terrified me, and I'm so happy now that the deal fell through. I would have been so unhappy there now that I think about it. Plus, it was slightly over our budget and we would have had to spend a lot more to get less house. 

The home we bought from our friends might not have every single little detail we wanted but it's got everything we need and has great potential for even more. They had it built and only lived in it for a short while as they finished the basement themselves. Then they had to move for the military and it's been a rental ever since. It needs a family to pour some love back into it and make it the home it was truly meant to be! I'm so excited to settle and make it our own. Once upon a time I even considered myself crafty, so I'd love to put some of those old skills to good use- finally! Woohoo! And the neighborhood is lovely- it's quiet and safe. A welcome change for my teen and tween who are needing to test some boundaries and get more personal freedom. Exploring our "quaint" little town will be great for them. And yes I said quaint- we moved out of the city and to a little town on the outskirts. It's so quiet out there! Another perk we are looking forward to.

The new house has a peony bush out front. A clear sign because those are my favorite! 

Anyway, I promise to post more house updates later, after we get moved in and somewhat settled.  And then it's time to paint and prioritize a few projects that we already know need to be done around the house. We've got just a few more days until the big move! I cannot wait for this part to be over already and it hasn't even begun. With all of our moves over the years though (there have been SO many, right?!) I feel like I've been training for this. I'm basically a professional mover at this point, so one last move should be a piece of cake, right? Moving...4 kids...been there done that. I got this! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

3 things I'm still learning as a mother

This post is sponsored by Cord Blood Registry ® (CBR ®), but the opinions expressed here are my own.


As a seasoned mom I like to think I know it all. I mean, with four kids over a span of 12 years, I've learned a ton. I've read stacks of parenting books (in those pre-internet days!) and pinned countless motherhood blog posts over on Pinterest. I've always felt super informed on all of those big parenting choices I had to make, whether it be feeding options or the decision to use disposable or cloth diapers. Anything to make me feel more prepared. 


As my youngest baby boy quickly approaches his 2nd birthday though, I'm realizing more and more that I'm still learning as a mother. It's kind of thrown me. He's my last baby...the final one, and he's been my biggest challenge so far. I find myself scouring the internet once again, reading all of the mommy forums and googling parenting questions because I realize I just don't have all of the answers all the time. I'm still learning, I'm still growing, and I'm still trying to figure out how to be the best mom I can be to each of my kids individually.


Here are 3 things I'm still learning as a mother:

Embrace the mess

I'm sharing this one because it's a big source of stress for me. I admit that far too often I tell my kids "let's do something else" or "maybe later," or often times just flat out "no, we're not doing that," all because I want to avoid a big clean up. As a former self-professed clean freak (who has now decided to let the little messes go) I admit that things like making mud pies, playing in the dirt, finger painting, or whipping up a batch of slime used to make me cringe. They were just too messy, and I'd drive myself crazy trying to micromanage the kids while they "played" without making a gigantic mess for me to have to clean up.

It wasn't until recently that I realized how un-fun I was being, and my kids were missing out on experiences because of my unwillingness to just cut loose and let them play. So I'm finally letting them. The toddlers have been obsessed with this little patch of dirt in our backyard and have been happily showering themselves with dirt every single day since I've decided to stop trying to keep them out of it. And you know what? They love it. It keeps them entertained for hours. They dig, they fill up buckets, they find "special" rocks to bring me, and they rarely bicker or fight with each other when they are in the dirt. Is it a pain in the behind when it's time for them to come inside? Yep. But is it worth those hours of care-free toddler bliss? Totally.


You have to pick and choose your battles with motherhood. And I'm not fighting the mess anymore!

Embrace technology

Technology is one of those things I really try to keep up on, but it's challenging because new advancements are coming out all the time it seems. There are so many new studies, procedures, and ideas nowadays versus when I had my first baby, and it is so interesting to look back and see how far things have come in the 12+ years since I started having children.

Recently a dear friend brought up the topic of cord blood banking. She told me that she'd opted to have it done with her last baby and that she wished that she'd known more about it when she first started having kids. After talking with her about it I felt the same way, since I trust and value her opinion on this kind of thing. 

About Cord Blood Stem Cells
Your baby's umbilical cord contains blood and powerful stem cells, and preserving them may give your child or an immediate family member, depending on the condition and other factors, the opportunity to use this resource for current cord blood therapies. Today, many conditions may be treatable with cord blood as a part of a stem cell transplant, including various cancers and blood, immune, and metabolic disorders. In the future, there may be other potential applications, like regenerative medicine. It's pretty incredible what they are doing these days! (https://www.cordblood.com/stem-cell-research/cord-blood-uses-and-research)


About Cord Blood Registry (CBR)
Cord Blood Registry (CBR) is a newborn stem cell preservation company. They offer affordable payment plans as well as a gift registry (so family and friends can help contribute towards the cost of banking. How cool!) Their Newborn Possibilities Program® assists families with qualifying medical need by covering all costs for preserving their child's newborn stem cells and storing them for five years. With CBR you have access to their team of Certified Genetic Counselors who can discuss your family's medical history as it relates to stem cells, and who can educate you on your options to preserve them for your family's future. CBR has a wealth of knowledge for you to dive into over here, so check it out! 

CLICK HERE to get a promo code for $200 OFF enrollment fees for cord blood banking with CBR by filling out your information.

If you're at all interested, don't delay...I so wish I'd known all of this when I was expecting!

Just follow these 5 steps:

Enroll with CBR online at cordblood.com/enroll or call 1-888-240-1996
CBR ships you a collection kit
Bring your kit to the hospital on your big day
Call the medical courier after your baby is born and the cord blood has been collected by your healthcare professional
Relax. CBR handles the rest and will notify you when the kit has been received.



Understand the seasons of motherhood

You can go through many different seasons in your time as a mom...some of them are amazing and some of them are gut-wrenching. Sometimes you'll feel like you're Supermom. You make dinner every night, stay on top of the laundry, pack lunches, cross everything off your "to-do" list, and you're just on top of everything.

Other times you might feel like a total failure as a mother and you wonder where that person went who could once juggle it all. Every day might be a struggle to get up, you're irritated, the pile of laundry is never-ending, and you've got your local pizza delivery on speed dial because you can't bring yourself to make dinner again tonight (or get to the grocery store regularly).

I'm here to tell you that it's OK. It's taken me years to understand that my own seasons of motherhood ebb and flow, and it's constantly changing. I wouldn't be the mother I am today without the experience of them all...the good and the not so good. Seasons don't last forever. Embrace the positives you can find in them and lean on friends and family when you need some extra support.

Motherhood is ever-changing. That's a big one. It's the most challenging yet most rewarding job on the planet and I'm just trying to my part to raise my little humans to be good people. I don't have it all figured out just yet, but I'm still growing and learning every day.

What's the biggest thing you're still learning as a mom? 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Dry shampoo tips for amazing second day hair

This post is sponsored by Dove Hair Care but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

When it comes to my beauty regimen, dry shampoo is definitely on my list of must-have, can't-live-without hair products. For someone with thick, curly hair like me, dry shampoo is a total game-changer. With it in my arsenal of hair products I can typically go three to five days without washing my hair. Yes, you read that correctly- three to five days! I've had people say they can't imagine going even a single day skipping the shampoo, but with a little practice and the right dry shampoo you can definitely extend the length between your wash routine and rock some amazing second and third day hair!


Third day hair- I heart my dry shampoo!

First, here's what my typical wash routine might look like for the week:

Day 1- wash/condition hair. Blow dry & either flat iron or curl with styling wand.
Day 2- touch up w/ flat iron/wand- wear down.
Day 3- dry shampoo & touch up w/ flat iron & wear down or put up.
Day 4- dry shampoo & wear up or w/ headband
Day 5- wash/condition hair. Blow dry & flat iron or curl & wear down.
Day 6- touch up w/ iron or wand & wear down.
Day 7- dry shampoo & touch up.

Keep in mind- just because you're not washing your hair every day doesn't mean you're not showering or bathing regularly. If I'm showering and skipping the shampoo, I simply throw my hair in a top knot with a nice and stretchy, wide headband on so that my hair doesn't get wet from the water spray. Shower caps are another great option if you want to keep your hair completely protected from the water and humidity in the shower to tub. 

New to dry shampoo? Whether you're using it for the first time or if you're obsessed like me, it's important to use it properly for best results. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for getting the most out of your dry shampoo:

Shake, shake, shake. Be sure to shake the can before and during use. This one is important and keeps the contents mixed and evenly dispersed. You don't want all of the good stuff settling at the bottom of the can, so shake before using and shake again while you're using it. 

Don't use too much. Hold the can 8-12 inches so that it sprays out in a fine mist. You don't want to saturate or blast the hair! You can always add more if your hair still looks oily. Too much product is going to leave your hair feeling stiff and looking dull. 

Focus on your roots. Don't spray the dry shampoo all over your head. Instead, focus on the root area- all the way down your part, around your hairline, with special attention to the bang area and around your ears. If you're going to be putting your hair up don't forget to get the back nape area. Lift the hair and spray near roots and just the first few inches of hair. 


Let it sit. Don't just spray and go- let it sit for a few minutes and really suck up all of that oil. I like to do my dry shampoo first, before I do my makeup, and let it sit until I'm completely done with my face so it has time to do its job.


Massage it in- don't brush. Finally, use your finger tips to massage and work the dry shampoo into your roots. I find brushing brings back the oiliness pretty quickly, so skip the brush and just use your fingers to work the product into your hair. Re-style as needed or simply tousle with your fingers and you're done.

Dove's Volume & Fullness dry shampoo is definitely my favorite for reviving my second and third day hair. It's light and fresh and smells divine!


This weightless formula cleans and refreshes my hair by instantly absorbing the oil on days I don't want to wash it (or can't bring myself dry it). All of that blow drying and heat styling is so damaging to my lightened locks, and my hair takes forever to dry and style. Dove's Volume & Fullness dry shampoo lets me go a few extra days in between shampoos and I can skip the daily blow drying and flat ironing, save time, and do less damage to my hair. When I need it, just a few quick sprays transform my hair from limp and lifeless to fresh, clean, and full of volume and body. 


On wash days I've been using Dove's Thickening Ritual shampoo and conditioner. It smells amazing! It's made with lavender and rosemary and it's nourishing yet light at the same time. I found it at Walmart for less than $5 when I went to pick up more of my dry shampoo and decided to give it a whirl. My hair has been through the wringer lately and I needed something to help repair some of the damage and abuse my hair has taken over the last few months. Just one wash made it feel thicker, fuller, and softer. 



Are you as dry shampoo obsessed as I am? I hope these tips help you extend your wash routine and rock that beautiful second and third day hair! 

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