Thursday, July 10, 2014

Inside the house

The walk to the front door. 

The front door and entry way:

A panoramic of the entry way, complete doorway on the left is a 1/2 bath, then up the stairs to the living room and the double doors on the right are a closet.

A panoramic of the Living room, the doorway in the right of the picture leads to the family room. 

The Master bedroom.

Master bathroom, there are two separate little walk in closets behind the camera. 

The blury picture two above is the loft/library off of the living room. Immediately above is the dining room, and below is the kitchen with the breakfast nook on the right side.
Above is the 1 car garage that is right off the kitchen, and below is the family room with the little windowy thing to the kitchen on the left and the open doorway to the living room (you can even see the little railing and starcase in the far distance to the library/nook, and then the french doors take you out to the back deck and the staircase on the far right goes up to the landing and kids' bedrooms.

Below is the biggest of the 3 kids bedrooms.

The small pink kid bedroom

Another small bedroom.
The small upstairs bathroom inbetween the kids' bedrooms.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Batgirl Gwen

We were helping a friend pack up her house for a move to Florida and she gave us a batgirl costume her daughter had already outgrown. Gwen looooves it. She has some awesome intense facial expressions and poses to go with it. I love this girl! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pinewood derby

Our branch put on a family pinewood derby. It was a lot if fun. Anyone could make and enter a car. So Chris got kits at the local hardware store and he excitedly took a night to help the kids design their cars. Alec wanted to do the same design as the car on the box of his kit, Charlie and Gwen both picked out a little matchbox car they thought looked cool and tried to copy that. A day it two later I helped the kids paint their cars. 

We had a potluck at the derby and everyone had a blast...especially the dads. They spent a good portion of the night getting everything the right weight and fixing wheels etc. the kids loved watching their cars go down the ramp...since it was held up mainly with stacked hymn books I'm surprised it never fell down! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Home owners!

We bought a house! I kept a pretty close eye on the market ever since we moved here 9 months ago. Surprisingly, Starkville has some of the highest property prices in the state of Mississippi, so despite being in the middle of no where, the housing market isn't as low as you would think.  We contacted a realtor and met up at a promising looking house way back in September, but with Chris' chemo rounds and stem cell transplant we had to focus our thoughts and energy elsewhere. Once things were a bit settled (meaning that once Chris finished his radiation treatment, once he got his class set up, once I could see the light at the end of the I-just-had-a-baby tunnel, once we felt we had a good idea about hospital bills from Chris' treatments) we got our finances in order and approached our realtor again to begin the house in earnest. We were looking for a new, 4+ bedroom, 2+ bathroom house with some kind of play/bonus room on a large pretty lot in a nice neighborhood and in the city school district. It didn't take long to realize that we wouldn't be able to get everything we wanted. We had to compromise somewhere. I emailed our realtor a bunch of options I wanted to check out and he scheduled appointments for us at those and a few other ones across 2 days. 

We looked at 4 or 5 houses the first day. Most were new and in good neighborhoods. I fell in love with the inside of one of, vaulted, open, bonus room...but it was at the top top of our price range and although it had a cool salt water pool, it was a small backyard with hardly any playable grass space and it no trees and the neighbors were SUPER close. 

The first house of the second day of searching was one Chris had picked out and was most excited to see. I had disregarded it in my searches because I thought it was out of the school district boundaries but after some research we found out it was just barely IN them! Our realtor warned us that people either love this house or hate it because it has some quirky character with little staircases and levels all over the place and unique features. As we drove out to the property the neighborhood looked PERFECT, the yard had SO MUCH potential, but the house looked old and we braced ourselves for a dumpy inside. Lo and behold, it wasn't too bad inside!  In fact, it has been really well kept and smelled nice.  We fell in love with all the levels and the unique layout and nooks but from the very beginning our minds raced with possible renovation ideas. With a little creativity figured out a way to address any concerns or dislikes with the inside...but tackling a renovation in a new town, for the first time, was nerve racking and price-wise we had NO clue what to expect.  At all the other houses we saw that day, we kept comparing them to the first property of the day and the neighborhood/location and yard just could not be beat. The newer homes we saw just seemed so ordinary and boxy, and the other yards (even some 3 acres ones) seemed so square and flat and not exciting. 

After some more thinking and prayers over the weekend we felt best about putting on offer on that first house of the second search day. By Monday we were in contact with our realtor and sent in an offer.  It took about a week but we settled on a price, about $6,000 less than the asking price and set the closing date for just over a month out. But before things were completely finalized, we did bring a friend of ours who is an architect over to the house to look at it and discuss with him our renovation ideas as a sanity check to make sure they were possible.  He said it looked do-able and even said he had a contractor guy he thought would be good. While we waited to close, we immediately set out to find a contractor and get renovation plans drawn up. 

We celebrated closing with a donut and ice cream party on the driveway.

In the end we had to compromise a new, ready to move in house, for the location and yard.  Because it was at the low end of our price range, we could afford to do fairly extensive renovations before we even came close to the price of one of the other new homes we liked, like the one with the salt water swimming pool....but then we would also have those beautiful 3 acres!

Oh! and there is a guest house, so....visitors welcome!!! (DISCLAIMER:  we need to renovate it first, and that's not going to happen until we renovate the main house)

Monday, April 28, 2014


We had a little scare on Monday, April 28 with tornados. The school sent out an email with a storm warning and asked us to keep an eye on our inboxes as they'll let us know if they will release the students early.  I had been planning on driving out to a neighboring town, Eupora, to visit a friend's store but the 30 min one way commute made me second guess and call Chris to double check. The storm wasn't set to hit us hard until 4:00pm so we agreed that if I could go and get back by 2:30 or so, I'd be safe. So we went and I enjoyed seeing more new places in our new state. The sky was starting to look ominous as I headed back and my mom called to see if I had heard about the weather and if I was OK. I got to Alec's school a bit early and good thing too, because they did release the kids early with hardly any warning. I was in constant contact with Chris, through texting and he was planning on meeting us at home right away. The campus shut down early for the storm but the traffic getting out of campus was sooooo bad that Chris ended up parking his car in a random staff parking lot and walking home. 

We were all together by 3:00pm and turned on the local news to track the storm. So far, our county wasn't impacted yet, but they were showing footage and pictures from Tupelo (about an hour north) where a Tornado had come through and caused a bunch of damage. We had just been in Tupelo the previous two days for our Stake Conference so it was weird` to think we were just there. (Actually our drive up to Sunday morning's session of Stake Conference was the WORST rain/thunder storm I remember ever being in..crazy weather)

We had previously  planned on where our "safe place" would be in our home and started making preparations to camp out in it.  Its the craft/game closet in our dining room. Its on the lowest level, with no windows or outside walls...and its not very big. Also the doors would easily pop off the track with the slightest pressure. We had to take out some bins and things to make room for all the pillows and blankets. I made a quick dinner and we ate it with the news blasting in the next room. Europa had a tornado touch down near by, but its trajectory was just north of Starkville...then another one touched down in Lousiville, 20 min south of Starkville..but again its trajectory just missed us. Our County did get a Tornado Warning and we hid in the closet for about 45 min. I peeked outside before we went in and saw some debris flying high in the sky above our house. In the closet, it got HOT and stuffy and crampy, and trying to bounce Frederick with zero room to take a step was not fun. In the middle of it, we peeked out the doors and could see a BLACK sky and heard somethings hit our house with a couple loud pings and thwaks. After a while I couldn't take being in there any longer and broke out. Happily we heard the weather guy say that Starkville was in the clear. 

Our branch was asked to help with Tornado clean up in Tupelo the following Saturday and Chris went to help. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy popcycle picnic

The spring here has been really nice! Albeit there have been lots of rain, thunder etc, but its also not very hot. We enjoyed some fun on a blanket outside today while we whittled away the house until Daddy comes home so we can have Friday Night Movie Night. 

Gwen started freaking out either because her hands were sticky or because part of her popcycle dropped... I can't remember which thing actually set her off. To try and distract her, I used the boys sudden camera shyness to make a game out of trying to get their picture taken. 

It worked! Not only did Gwen stop crying, but I got a great surprise picture of the kids by flipping the camera to take a picture from the screen side of the phone while the kids came over to look at the previous shots. 

And Frederick is just a cutie pie. 

Speaking of cutie pies, Gwen loves to read to Frederick and he likes it too! She has such great facial expressions and uses a variety of voices as she makes up stories to match the pictures. (you can kind of see her lingering black eye from a golf ball incident a few days early. She had the biggest goose egg I have ever seen!) 

Sunday, April 20, 2014


I love the chance to really focus and celebrate our Savior's infinite sacrifice and His beautiful resurrection.  It was especially meaningful for me to get to teach Relief Society on that Sunday as I prepared the whole week long.  I've learned more these past few months about how His Atonement makes a difference in my daily troubles and trials. How his suffering covers and carries me through the imperfections of my life. The promise and hope of eternal life as families is the greatest blessing of knowing the reality of His Resurrection. Because of Him, all trials are traversable and life can be pleasant regardless of circumstance.  I love this movie: 

Our branch put on a Good Friday Musical Fireside that we were all involved with. Chris and I sang in our Branch Choir and did a few numbers, Alec, Charlie and Gwen sang with the primary and did a few songs, I organized and led some of the older children in playing bells during one of their songs, sang in a trio that turned into a duet, had a difficult solo: O Divine Redeemer, made the program, and brought some food. Yikes. I was pretty nervous about everything but we had a lovely evening despite a small-ish turn out and me not quite rockin' my least I got through it.  A local Baptist choir performed some songs too. They were about 6 older gentleman accompanied by a brilliant young piano player and sang some real Southern Gospel style, call and response type of songs: I woke up in the Mo'nin' with my mind on Jesus etc. Then A counselor in the Alabama, Birmingham Mission spoke and we served refreshments. Focusing on that Musical Fireside meant we didn't get a whole lot of other Easter Week celebrations in besides FHE and coloring eggs.  This was the least prepared for Easter Day, I had been in a while and didn't really have all the bells and whistles for the kids' baskets, but that's not what is important anyway and the kids didn't seem to notice. 

About halfway through Sacrament meeting, Chris tells me that the dizziness he's been feeling for the last couple of days (the first listed side effect for both of Chris' post-stem-cell-transplant medications) has gotten bad enough that he felt like he needed to go lay down in the car. It was a little crazy getting all the kids ready for church by myself (since Chris has early meetings), putting something in the crockpot for dinner and getting stuff ready for my Relief Society lesson I was teaching at I wasn't super excited about him leaving but poor guy looked pretty miserable.  The lesson went alright, Frederick was helpful and slept through it.

When we got home from Chruch, Chris was still feeling terribly dizzy and needed to go sleep until dinner. The playdo in the kids' Easter basket kept them happily entertained for almost 2 hours and Frederick fell asleep in the Johnny-Jump-Up.  So I was able to enjoy making dinner and a yummy lemon cake. 

We got invited over to a good friend's house for Easter Dinner and an egg hunt. We all had a blast. It really helps having friends around to celebrate holidays with when our family is so far away. 

We managed to fit in our traditional Easter Egg Roll before bedtime. We each had 3 eggs... and the winner was...

Me! I think this is the second time in my life I've won. Yeah, it feels pretty awesome.