House Colors – Building A House

Before we could sign the contract we had to make a few big decisions like structural changes to our plan and our exterior house colors. The neighborhood has a monotony rule which means your house can’t be the same color as any 4 houses either direction from your lot including across the street. Since a good number of lots on our street were already sold our color selections dwindled from the already limited offerings.

I had my heart set on a dark gray or dark blue but we quickly learned that we couldn’t select either of those. Each house typically has 2 color combinations that you select, a main siding color and an accent siding (typically used near the roof line). After we figured out which color combinations we should avoid I was then left with a bunch of beige and green colors. BLECH! All I really want is a gray or blue house, is that too much to ask?

Finally, I found a combination I liked… Pearl (a very light gray) for the primary house color and Storm (a darker gray with a slight brown tint) for the accent color, combined with black shutters and white trim.

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Of course over the next few days I kept doubting my color selections. But I’ve decided to stick with my first instinct.

The lighting in the picture above isn’t great but I think this is what the main color combination will look like. Just add black shutters and maybe a black front door.

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The front door will look something like this…

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It took over 3 hours to get all of our structural options and colors selected but at the end of the meeting we had signed the contract and paid our deposit.

Next up, meeting with the builder.

Back to School Routine with Juicy Juice

My boys have been back to school for about 4 weeks now and I finally feel liked we’re getting into a good routine for our days. It’s so important for my boys to have a daily routine they can count on, it’s helps to feel confident and comfortable when they know what to expect from the day.

I typically prep their school lunches the day before so I can be present during our morning routine. The boys know there are no screens in the morning before school but after they are ready for the day they are free to play or read until it’s time to leave.

In the afternoons they unpack their backpacks and then are free to relax for an hour or so until we have to start homework. They typically run to play with their little brother’s that they’ve obviously missed throughout the day. We have a small snack and discuss the events of our day. It’s probably one of my favorite parts of the day because they little brothers are so excited to tell the big boys what they’ve been doing all day. I love to listen to them excitedly share what’s be going on while they were gone.

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Having a routine helps our days run smoothly and reduce the amount of whining when they kids know what is expected of them. I actually think they look forward to their screen free mornings playing with their little brothers before they head off to school.

Juicy Juice has more great tip from author Meredith Sinclair on how to get your kids into the back-to-school routine.

I received the featured product in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinions are not influenced by the company.

Choosing a Lot – Building a House

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After we found a neighborhood we liked (and a house plan we liked) we had to pick a lot. In our community they zero cost lots where the cost of the lot is included in the base price of each home and then there are premium lots. There wasn’t much explaination as to why certain lots are “premium lots”  but typical they were larger, or on a cul-de-sac or may offer a flat lot.

After inspecting the lots (we drove around to each one we liked on paper and examined the topography, size, proximity to other homes/street lights/sidewalks/fire hydrants.) we picked 4 lots as our top choices. All four lots where near the highest point in the neighborhood (there are a lot of hills), and each one measured about the same size in acreage. However, they each had their pros and cons.

Lot A – is the largest lot and is flat. However it is wider at the street and then narrows in the back yard. It also backs to the side of another house. It was a mid-priced premium lot.

Lot B – Is on a semi-cul-de-sac and is flat. It’s slightly smaller in acreage than Lot A. It’s almost at the top of the hill and without any other homes built around it offers great views (once the rest of the neighborhood is developed some of the view may be obscured). Being at the top of the hill the potential backdoor neighbors don’t pose much of a privacy issue since the yard will most like look onto their roof. The unique street design makes it difficult to determine how the house will sit on the lot. It’s near the top of the premium priced lots.

Lot C – Is the same acreage as Lot B. However, there is a steep drop off at the back end of the lot significantly lessening usable yard space. There may be some view that is retained with this lot as it’s placed near the top of the hill. Otherwise it’s a pretty standard lot and is on the low end of the premium priced lots.

Lot D – Is located on a different street than the previous three lots. Not at the top of the hill but still on a nicely elevated lot. It’s a corner lot which can be a pro or con. One of the streets might become a busy thorough fare. It’s one of the largest lots and it’s flat. It’s a mid-priced premium lot.

We went with Lot B. Yes, it was the most expensive of our choices (not the most expensive overall) but we feel the premium price is worth a good location.  We still aren’t sure how the house will sit on the lot but once we meet with the builder he will go over all of that and even walk the lot with us.

Choosing a Neighborhood – Building a House

First a little note about my online documentation of our home building process. In an effort to keep our our family safe I’m going to try and not mention the name of our new neighborhood or builder. I want to keep some things private and also respect the builder. Beyond that I do plan on sharing as much of this process online as possible.

For the past few years I’ve been keeping up with the real estate market in our town. I knew that we’d be ready to buy sometime soon and wanted to have a realistic expectation of what we might find once we started looking. So when we decided we were really ready to take the plunge I had already done a ton of research on the surrounding neighborhoods and current real estate market. We decided on a planned community that has a variety of amenities and a good location.

Here are few reason we selected the community in which we are building:

Location – Our new neighborhood is only 5 miles from our current home so we are already familiar with the area and like the ease of access to all of the things we already know and use. (church, stores, friends, family, etc…) Also, there are a lot of new neighborhoods being built in our town, most of which are surrounded by undeveloped land. Our new neighborhood is already in a fairly established part of town so we don’t have to worry about large complexes being built across the street or next door.

Amenities – For our family we wanted a neighborhood that had street lights, side walks, a pool and a other family friendly amenities. Yes, choosing a planned community means you typically get less yard space (especially in our city) but we’d rather have community than more land.

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School District – Our kids are in public school this year and we had to consider their needs as well. If we moved out of our school zone they would have to most likely have to switch to a different school next year. We chose to stay in the same school district.

House Plan – I’ve looked at a lot of nice neighborhoods that had great amenities and a good location but ultimately wasn’t able to find a floor plan that worked for our family. I am a firm believer that bigger isn’t always better. Most people would probably assume we are building a huge house for our large-ish family but it’s really not that big. I’ve seen 3,000+ square feet houses that were poorly designed and didn’t make good use of the space. Our new home will be a little less than 2,500 (which some people think is too small) however, the space is all used very well. Plus, you have to take into consideration the utilities and cleaning of a bigger house.

Cost – Finally, cost does play a huge roll into where we were able to buy. Luckily, we were able to meet all of our previous requirements and still stay within our price-range. Even with the current real estate market surge in our area.

These 5 things combined helped us choose the neighborhood where we will be building. We also looked at online reviews of our builder and did plenty of other research.



We’re building a house

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Our future backyard at sunset

So last week we signed the contract to build a home. This is huge because not only is this the first house we’ve built but it will also be the first house we will own.

When Joe and I were engaged and planning our wedding (10 years ago) we had a lot of friends that were also getting married. While they were planning their weddings they were also buying their first homes together. We decided to wait to buy our first home and I’m so glad we did. Never would we have imagined that we would have 4 kids. We most certainly would have bought a house that was way too small. Also, as we’ve lived together in several different homes over the past few years we have a good idea of what kind of space we need and what works best for our growing family.

I don’t know if this new house will be our forever home but we are treating it that way. I’m trying to imagine our 4 little guys growing into large teenager boy it’s difficult to imagine but I’m trying to plan ahead.

We still have a lot of work to do before they even start building the house (there are so many choices to be made) but we are extremely excited, and a little bit anxious too. However, we are terribly sad to be leaving our current neighborhood. We have the best neighbors ever and our kids have made so many great friends. That being said, we are only moving 5 miles away. The hardest part of this move will be leaving our great neighborhood. But I see this opportunity as a chance to make more friends.

I’m going to try to document and share our home building process on here, and Instagram too. I’ve had so many questions answered by reading blog posts and have loved reading about other people’s experiences of building their home.

Tips for Packing School Lunch

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I pack 2 school lunches every day, in a few weeks I will be packing 3 school lunches. I’m working on streamlining the process to make my life easier but also still provide healthy lunches for my boys. Here are a few things I do to help make my life a little easier.

  1. Buy in Bulk – A lot of ingredients are required when you have to pack 3 lunches 5 times a week. So I frequent big box stores when I’m able or a just buy several boxes of whatever product I’m buying.
  2. Buy Proper Food Storage – I bought several 3 compartment food containers and a lunch box that fits said container plus has a place for a water bottle. We save money buy reusing the food storage containers and giving the boys water bottles for their drinks. Plus, I can store messier food in the containers.
  3. Pack Ahead – I typically pack the boys lunches the day before. I have a toddler at home with me while they are at school and he also requires lunch. So whatever I make him for lunch I just make more and pack the boys lunch while I’m at it. I just store them in the refrigerator so I can just pop them in their lunch boxes in the morning.
  4. Remember your food groups – I know my kids would love a meal full of sugary treats and carbs but I also know that if I pack them fruit or veggies they might actually eat it. My boys are well rounded diners so I try to provide a few different foods in their lunch. For instance, one lunch may be pizza rolls, baby carrots, grapes, veggie straws and a Go Organically Fruit Snack.
  5. Have fun – I know I get sick of eating the same thing every day so I try to make the boys versatile and fun lunches. Some of their favorites are pizza rolls, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, crackers and cheese, and more. They typically only have sandwiches about twice a week. I also like to include a fun sweet treat like Go Organically Fruit Snack.


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I received the featured product in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinions are not influenced by the company.

Smurfs – The Lost Village DVD Review

Once again we had a wonderful Friday evening with our traditional pizza and a movie. This week we watched Smurfs – The Lost Village and it was a huge hit.

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Smurfs – The Lost Village

In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a rollercoaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history!

I loved the Smurfs when I was young and I loved being able to share this fun story with my kids. The Lost Village explores the story of how Smurfs came to be and what secrets lie beyond their small village. It’s fun for me as an adult to learn more about the characters I loved some much as a child.

The cast boast many popular actors whom you might easily recongnize their voice, or not. One of my favorite things to do while watching animated movies with my kids it to try and figure out which famous actors are voicing the characters. Sometimes it’s easy and other times I’m quite surprised. This time there were several voices I recognized right away like Jack McBrayer, Rainn Wilson and Ellie Kemper.

The DVD and BluRay also comes with so much bonus material like commentary, interactive featurettes, and music videos. Overall, it’s a great movie for family movie night and we can’t wait to watching it again.

I received the featured Blu-Ray in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinions are not influenced by the company.

First Day of School

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Yesterday was Jude and Noah’s first day of school. This year they are attending a year-round public school. I’ve had a variety of emotions over the past few months about them going to school this year instead of homeschool. I feel at peace about the decision and know there are many benefits to this decision. It’s not one we took lightly but when we originally decided to homeschool Jude 4 years ago we said we would take it year-by-year and do what was best for each child. I am sad to give up all of our free time and flexible schedule but I think there are so many positive things that will come from their days at school.

As I dropped them off at school yesterday morning they walked into the building holding hands and I knew they would be alright. While they were at school I took the 2 little guys out for a fun morning at Pullen Park and it was nice to spend some quality time with just the 2 of them. I didn’t know what to do with myself all day, it was calm and quiet around the house even with 2 little boys. I think they also liked the extra space they got with their brothers gone. When I picked up Jude and Noah from school they had smiles on their faces and told me all about their days. Noah admitted he was a little nervous but then happily told me about his desk, cubby, recess, story time, lunch and his new teachers. Jude had lots to talk about as well. He is ready to volunteer for all the things and wants to participate in all of the extra activities offered. I also noticed a big difference in Jude’s behavior after school, he was very relaxed and attentive. I think the structured school day really helped him.

After dinner we took the boys for a bike ride to Pelican’s Snoballs where they continued to share their excitement for school. They were all pretty exhausted when bedtime came around and were happy to go to bed, not only because they were tired but because tomorrow was another school day.

I know there will be challenges that come along with each school year but for now I’m so happy their first day was a success. Photo Jul 31, 7 24 18 PM Photo Jul 31, 10 55 45 AM Photo Jul 31, 10 42 03 AM Photo Jul 31, 10 01 01 AM