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.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Mr. Brigglesworth Update

My littlest man is such a blessing. He is his brother's biggest fan and he loves his momma.

Mr. JCrew has a hold on him, and Mr. Brigglesworth loves to get "roughed up" by his daddy.

The words Mr. Brigglesworth says are countless. He is speaking sentences and you can understand him! His nickname for Little JCrew sounds like "Yolks" or "Dilts." We know what it means and it is adorable.

He will chase Little JCrew around trying to offer him something. He loves to share because he loves when people share with him. Sometimes I have to tell Little JCrew to take what Mr. Briggleworth is offering even if he doesn't want it.

At night time, our house is like the Walton's. Mr. Brigglesworth has to say "goodnight" to everyone. "Goodnight, Kates! Goodnight, Jackson! Goodnight, Mimi. Goodnight, Anderson. Goodnight, "Dilts." Goodnight, "Bolby" (Colby). Goodnight, Momom." He goes to sleep easily and loves to sing "Happy Birthday" as a bedtime song. He'll always ask for more songs. He will say the Lord's Prayer before bed and it's pretty good. The words are not clear, but the pattern is right on.

As crazy as he was as a baby, he is becoming organized! He still plays with his cars and trucks very delicately and passionately. He will call out a truck from far away; even just hearing a big engine, he calls out "truck" and looks for it. He can even distinguish an airplane flying by. We have promised him a truck when he can drive.

He is still an introvert and plays well by himself. He prefers quiet rest time and finds Dad's silliness too extreme. We let his hair grow out and I love it. I was afraid growing it out would make his spiky hair stand out even further, but the spikes have calmed down and his hair lays flat.

He loves to eat and wants a "bite." He has four breakfast's each morning; his own, part of mine, part of Mr. JCrew's and part of Mimi's. And we wonder why we are hungry after we just ate.

He's not a runner, but he tries. He LOVES to be "outside" and look for trucks! "Here it comes" and "There it goes"  are favorite phrases.

His sweet spirit is still there and he loves to cuddle. He loves his favorite blanket and big bear hugs.

I love this little boy of mine, and am so glad God picked me to be his momma.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Patching and Painting

We've moved out of the house and there was a lot of work that went into it. I do feel really lucky that I had three months to prepare. I couldn't imagine squeezing it all into 30 days. I would have had long days and taking time off from work. For that I am grateful I had 3 months.

After taking everything off the wall, I had to patch holes. Most holes were just nails, and those are easy. But the holes with anchors scared me. Not all my paints are in flat finish. When you work with non-flat paint, it accentuates imperfections. I’m a perfectionist.

I perfected my technique in patching holes. I did three coats each. I sanded in between coats. I was pretty proud. I even took some water with a rag to wipe the excess dust on the wall. Painting over the dust isn’t pretty. Even in some spots, I took a razor blade to get the raised drywall off the wall. I did that after I already applied the first coat of putty.

The part that I dread is the painting. Touch-up jobs are much harder than doing a whole wall.

I had thrown out my dining room paint the builder left me, so I bought a quart of it. My holes were perfect, but the paint shade was off. I knew it the minute I started rolling. And you can tell where I rolled.

I didn’t get upset as I knew it could change by morning. I woke up, still disappointed.

Dining Room

This meant I’d have to paint the entire room. Good thing the bottom portion is wainscoting! (Note: While packing up the house, on the VERY LAST day, I found the dining room can of paint left by the builder!)

Painting the whole room was not what I wanted to do. This is why it frustrated me. Even when I use the same paint can from the time I painted the original walls, it still doesn’t turn out right. I love painting, but HATE touch up.

The living room walls were frustrating me. They looked fine straight on. The color matched. But when you looked from the side, you could see the roller marks. I kept trying to fix that area until I called it good enough.

Living Room
The week before we moved out, I had a change of heart. I bought a new quart of the living room paint and decided to tackle it one more time. The new paint worked! I guess my old paint had gotten old enough. Thanks goodness it looks better now!

The room I dreaded most was Little JCrew’s room. The bed system was mounted to the wall, when I painted his room, I never removed the 2x4’s so I painted them. This meant I’d need to paint that portion now that it was gone.

Same issue with the boat propellers. Those suckers were mounted to the wall good. But the anchor caused a large hole.

I used the trick about leaving the drywall paper around the hole to create a smooth transition.

Tips say to cut a square because that’s easier, but I didn’t. I just used chalk around the circle and put my scrap drywall up to it to mark the size.

I then scored the sheetrock and started removing chunks.

The boys were helping me at this point. Little JCrew was identifying all the triangles.

At first the paper curled on the ends. That was because it got thinner during the process of removing the chunks. In hindsight, I should have worked to straighten them out, but instead I cut them.

I then tried to use the plaster to get the paper down, but it failed just like it failed when repairing the drywall on the stairwell. So, I used the same solution, of SuperGlue.

Then I used compound and sanded. I repeated those steps. It actually sanded down the sheetrock paper thinner, so that helped smooth the transition.

I waited to paint. It made me so nervous.

However, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I did multiple coats of paint. Each layer that went on, disguised the drywall job I did.

Luckily, this is the new owner's office and he put a large wall system on that wall. It was really hard to tell unless you were looking for it. Glad it all worked out and all the holes were filled.

The bonus room was my next to biggest fear in regards to holes. The TV was mounted on the wall using large bolts into the stud. But I was able to patch it with no trouble and with new paint, you can't find it!

I learned how to perfect a skill but didn't master the drywall repair. I need more practice, but you won't find me making holes in my wall just for that.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Eagleston Holly - Update

I have received a lot of questions and traffic about my Eagleston Holly. The last question asked for an update on them, so here it is. (Sidenote: We are in zone 7.)

I have two Eagleston Hollies. They were planted in a bed that originally had Dogwoods.

June 2014

Those dogwoods had no shade to survive, and I needed something that would be a screen for my neighbor's yard. Eagleston Holly is an evergreen, so during the winter, I have a constant screen. It really does aid in providing privacy.

June 2014

The leaves do shed twice a year, but it is not bad. They shed right before a new growth. The leaves have one "point" per leaf but it would not hurt if you were to step on it bare foot.

Leaf Detail

This winter we had snow that lasted more than a day. I tried to shake the snow off the branches of my trees, but the weight of the snow held them down. I did heavily trim my Eagleston Hollies this year because of that. I do trim them regularly so that they are encouraged to grow fuller.

It is definitely not a perfect tree meant to be a specimen, but it is a nice tree. Something very unique about it.

Thanks for all the questions and comments.

May 2014 after pruning. 

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