Friday, February 29, 2008

Home is where the Navy sends you....

Hello Friends!!
Put on your house hunting shoes, because we are going to find us a house!!!!

It's that time again and I'm finding myself pouring over rental listings as we anticipate another cross country move.
I'm still battling with what could have been and am a little frustrated that our plans for a house hunting trip (our first ever) had to be canceled because of my ankle injury and subsequent surgery. Sigh.

It is killing me to not be able to see my choices in person because I really do believe that houses have personalities and a certain feel to them that either makes them a good match or it doesn't. That's hard to judge by a photo.
Also, just like you don't marry a man, you marry his family don't just rent a house, you rent the neighborhood right along with it.

I so wanted to stand in the kitchens of all of these homes and mentally place my furniture in the living rooms. I wanted to look out the windows and walk around in the yards, and I wanted to drive around the neighborhoods.
I wanted to be certain that the house we chose to rent for the next three or four years was going to be a match.
But, God has other plans, and even though I don't understand why right now, this is where He has I'm going to do the best I can from here. But I have to admit, I'm sitting here seriously wishing that He would just write on my wall....because I have no idea what to do!!
Here's my deal.....

We started on Monday with 12 homes on our list.
Four have been rented since then.
We decided that two of them are out of our price range, even if just by $50 a month.
One is located too far away for David to commute and the last one I struggled with for three days before finally determining that although I loved the floorplan and the fabulous backyard, it was just not going to be large enough to meet our long term needs.
And so we are down to five.
I'll give you the run-down of each, but keep in mind that my number one necessity is that the house be comfortable, inviting and it MUST have lots of natural light. I'm the kind of girl who is definitely affected by weather and since we are moving to a place that tends to be a bit gloomy, I need light to pour into my home as much as possible to help combat that. So, lots of windows are a big plus.
Other than that, I think I can live with any of the choices I have listed below. I'm just not sure what choice to make for quality of life. So I need your help.

House Number One:

4 bdrm, 2.5 bath 2 Story home ( approx 2022 sf). Large bedrooms. Large kitchen w/ lots of storage. Casual and formal dining areas. Deck w/ large fully fenced yard. Gas fireplace, gas heat and water. 3 car garage.

I'm worried that there is just a living room and no family room. I'm hoping to find a home with both so that I can set up my studio in either room.
Pros: it says the bedrooms are roomy.

Cons: There are only four bedrooms, which means Madison and Bren will have to share. They can totally do this, but will they want to for the next couple of years?
Pros: large fenced yard.

Pros: large kitchen with storage

Biggest Con.... no available interior photos so it's impossible to see how much light this home gets inside or what the floorplan looks like. The house will be occupied until mid-march, so unless I want to do a walk through in person, I will not know what this one looks like inside until it is vacant. And time is of the essence here.
Huge Pro: This one is almost $300 below what we have budgeted for our monthly rent.

House Number Two:

4 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2-Story home (approx. 1969 sq.ft.). Kitchen w/eat-in area, breakfast bar & pantry. Separate dining room, laundry room w/W/D. Gas fireplace, gas hot water/heat. Master bdrm has walk-in closet w/private bath & soaking tub. Office. Lots of closet space, 2-car garage, all appliances.

Here are some interior photos of this one:

I REALLY like this kitchen!

(Dining Room)

Pro: SOAKING tub! A luxury we have never had!

Pro: This house looks like it gets plenty of natural light.

Pro/Con: This home has a 10x0 office that was described to me as an open space, so I'm guessing it has no door. It does have a storage closet though. This would be too small for me to use as a studio, but it could be the fifth bedroom for Bren if we could come up with a creative way to close it off..... or not because do you really need a door that closes when your are five? Then again I don't think that loft areas that are at located at the top of stairways are appropriate for bedrooms, and if that is what this "open space" is, it probably will not this is one of those "I wish I could see it "things.

Pro/Con: There is a possibility that the separate dining room mentioned could be used as studio space, but it's hard to tell if the kitchen is big enough for our kitchen table and chairs.

Con: Again no mention of a family room plus a living room.

Con: Only four bedrooms, unless we can work out that fifth.

This home is also less than our monthly budget for rent.

House Number Three:

Nice 5Bd, 3 ba home in the Vineyard development. This home has a living room w/fireplace, family room, vaulted ceilings, kitchen, ref, stove, and dishwasher and dining area, laundry room, gas forced air heat, 2-car garage. It is located at the south end of the lake. 1800 square feet.
Really bad interior photos:

(living room)

(family room)

( master)

Pro: 5 sharing!
Pro: Adequate natural light
Pro: Living room and family I will be able to have some studio space!
Pro: looks like a nice yard and deck
Con: No photos of the kitchen or bathrooms
Biggest Con: Does 1800 square feet for a five bedroom house scare you at all?
I'm afraid that the bedrooms are going to be super tiny.
On the other hand, none of our kids have alot of bedroom furniture, so perhaps the less is more idea will work here.

1800 square feet when laid out well can be nice and roomy, but if chopped up, it can feel like a mouse maze! This is another one of those "I wish I could see it" things!!

I do like the look of the neighborhood that I can see. It looks newer and well kept. I'm not crazy about the entrance, but I'm guessing we'll go in through the garage instead of climbing the front stairs.

This is the least expensive 5 bedroom home I've seen and is about $100 below our monthly budget for rent.

House Number Four:

Brand new 5 bedroom, approx. 2100 sq. ft, home in Lake Stevens school district. Home has living room with gas fireplace, dining area, kitchen with stainless steel appliances, gas stove, and island. Master bedroom has attached bathroom and walk in closet. Living Room and Family Room. Fully fenced yard and a 2 car garage.
Interior photos:

(living room)

(family room)
Pro: Brand New!
Pro: 5 bedrooms so no sharing.
Pro: Kitchen has an island and stainless steel appliances
Pro: fenced yard
Pro: Living room and family room, so I'd have my studio space
Pro: I like the exterior appearance of this home
Pro: Seems to get enough light
Con: yard seems a bit small judging from what I can see through the window.
Con: no photos of the bedrooms or bathrooms
Con: Might not come with a refrigerator
This home is $100 more per month than home number three. Is 300 more square feet, a kitchen with an island and upgraded appliances and a fully fenced yard worth an extra $100 per month? Also, this home mentions a walk in master closet and the other one does not.

House Number Five:

Nice 5 bedroom house on shy 1/4 acre. Living Room (with fireplace), Kitchen, Family Room, laundry room, and 1 bedroom downstairs. Upstairs has 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms. The master bedroom has a large walk-in closet and a 5 piece bathroom. New carpet and new interior paint throughout. 2 car garage with opener. Fully fenced back yard.
Pro:I really like the exterior look of this home too!
Pro: 5 bedroom so no sharing!
Pro: Family Room and Living Room so I'd have my studio space
Pro: Large fully fenced yard
Pro:One bedroom down is a good idea in case we have overnight guests who have difficulty with staircases.
Pro: New paint and carpet
Pro: five peice bathroom, so I'd get a tub with this one too...but maybe not a soaking one like with house number two.
Con: no idea of square footage.
Con: No interior photos available for a few more weeks, so I can't really make a decision on this one yet. I have no idea how much light it gets inside. I'm hesitant to hold out for this one and let the others slip by for fear that I may hate the interior.
This home is the exact same price as home number four and at the top end of our budget.
Here is where you come in! I need some help, some opinions, some clarity!!
So, given these choices, what would you do?
Which house do you like the best?
Which house do you think has the best personality?
Which one looks the most inviting with a light and airy feel?
Would you go for the least expensive home even if there are only 4 bedrooms, or would you go with the least expensive 5 bedroom home even though it is on the small side?
Would you go for broke and rent house number 4 or 5 even though it is at the top end of your budget?
If we got a 4 bedroom, we could just sign a one or two year lease and then move up to a 5 bedroom once we get to know the area better and had time to really shop around. In that case though, we'd incure the expense of moving ourselves when the time came why not just settle in somewhere for the duration of our time there?
Ug! So many scenarios are swimming around in my head.
I really, really wish that I could get on a plane next week and fly out to see all of these homes and neighborhoods so I could settle it once and for all.
I just know that one of these houses would clearly stand out from the rest if I could see them in person.
Here is the real kicker though....if I drag my feet, all of these homes could be rented at any time while I try to make my decision.....and then I'll have to start all over!

See, isn't Navy life fun?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

C is for Cupcakes!

Yummy, pink, strawberry cupcakes with white icing and sprinkles!!

We decided to do something fun yesterday with our letter C word of the day.

So we mixed up some cupcake batter and baked 24 delicious goodies!

They beat construction paper cut outs anyday!

Bren decorated her own with rainbow sprinkles and green gel writing.

So, I went to physical therapy yesterday and I take back what I said about liking it!
It was so painful this time!
I didn't really do anything different on Wednesday than I had done on Monday, but it really hurt this time.
I came home and wanted to do nothing but sit on the couch with my leg propped up and a bag of ice on it. Not being a big fan of pain, it's so tempting to stay off of it as much as I can on my non-therapy days, but I'm not sure if that is the best thing for progress.
Yesterday my trainer took my crutches away and gave me a cain to walk with. It slowed me down alot and took much more concentration on my part to get around, but I did OK. I still took my crutches home with me, but I think they want me off of them totally by this coming Monday and just using the cain to get around.
For some reason a cain seems like a demotion instead of a promotion, doesn't it?
There is just something so un-sexy about a cain! Not that crutches are sexy, but they have a more, "oh you are hurt, you poor thing" feel to them, and less of an "old, crotchety lady" feel, ya know?
But, whatever gets me to two strong feet the fastest is what I'll do... sexy or not.
So, what did you think of the girls last night?
So far I am really liking Brooke, Kristie and Carly.
I'll be holding my breath at the elimination tonight!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My dialing finger is cramping up!!

C'mon America Save Jason!!

If Jason Castro goes home Thursday it wont be because of me!

I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I just spent an hour and a half voting for him and I got through every single time.

That scares me a little. Both because I got through everytime and because I voted for that long! But, in my defense, I really did have nothing better to do. I voted during my required leg elevation time.

I've never voted this early in American Idol. I usually only vote when it is down to the top ten, but I really, really want Jason to stick around and I'm worried for him tonight. I think the competition needs him and he's not shown us his best yet, so I'd hate for him to go home this soon.

I thought his performance was great, but after what the judges had to say, he might be on the chopping block.

I really enjoyed David Archuletta (I'm sure I murdered his name!) tonight! He's adorable in a big doofas kind of way, and his voice is amazing! I hope he's in the final six along with Jason Castro, David Cook (who rocked it out tonight!), Michael Johns, and two others that have yet to be determined.
I'm going to go ahead and call Robbie a rocker wannabee. He even moves like a pop singer. I see the rocker in him fading fast....but like he said...maybe he's his own brand of rocker...pop rocker maybe?
That's all the Idol I got tonight, folks!

I hope the girls do well tomorrow night!!

Need a little Spring in your step?

I sure do!!
If I can't get gorgeous blooming flowers in my yard yet, I will do the next best thing and put them on my kid!
I always get excited when I find a new designer who fits the style I like to see on Bren and this one is no exception. Sometimes the simple can be profound and I've found that to be true with Michele of Dilly Bop Designs . Her choice of fabrics is so fun and fresh and her designs are made for real kids to wear everyday! And as if her fabulous designs were not enough, you have to see her whimsical packaging! It will make you smile!
Check out this cute set!!

These are the sets you will be reaching for everyday whether you are lounging around the house or going out to lunch with the girls. You just can't beat wearable clothes with head turning style!
Check out her etsy store and tell her that Bren sent ya! Oh, and to stretch your wardrobe even farther, do what we did and get a three piece coordinating set: t-shirt, pants and skirt!
You will be glad you did... Bren sure is!

And if you are looking for something a little more dressy for Easter or Spring events, you have to see this four piece set from my friend Lisa of Little*bits*by*lisa!! Lisa will be listing it on e-bay on February 28th.

This shabby rosette top is my new favorite design!! I love how it is fitted nicely around the chest and then flows down around the hips. It looks so comfy!

And this top....WOW!!!! It's just perfect for Easter egg hunting or any Spring event. I love the slight flare to the skirt of the top. It adds just enough sass to this very sweet set!

The fabulous bows for these sets were made by lil*miss*priss*bowtique and the adorable coordinating bracelet was made by my*pink*princess*jeweltique
Visit the sites of all of these designers to see how you can get these sets and accessories made in your size of choice....and don't forget to tell them Bren sent ya!!
It's been great getting back into the studio! Bren picked up right where she left off after a long three week break from modeling. We are still available to model designs until April 1st, so contact us if you are interested in our services.
Physical Therapy Update:
I had my first official physical therapy session yesterday. It went really well!
I rode a bike for 10 minutes, learned some stretches, practiced walking with one crutch, got a killer massage and enjoyed 15 minutes in an ice boot.
My trainer was really nice and much gentler than I had anticipated.
There was a marine there who had the same scar I did. We compared stories and I learned that he had done the same thing to his ankle five months ago while playing football. In therapy, he was jumping around and doing all kinds of things with his ankle, so I'm encouraged that five months from now, I'll be in a far better place.
I'm scheduled for three days a week and I'm really looking forward to going again.
Yippeeeee! It's Idol Tuesday!!!!!
C'mon Jason!!!
I'll see you back here later for idol reaction.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Done with "B" week!!

We are plugging right along with Bren's new, more structured life.....which really means that MY own life has to be more structured.....and being a spontaneous and dripping with fun sanguine....I ain't liking it...not one bit!
Making the chart part was fun! I bet those of you who know me well thought I'd trashed the chart by now, huh? Well, we are still hanging in there!
We've struggled on a few days and things haven't always gone as planned, but we are finished with "A" week and "B" week and today begins "C" week!!

This past week Bren learned to write Bee, Bug, Blue, Bren and Ball! I usually write out about 15-20 words that begin with our letter of the week and then let her choose the word she wants to learn on that day. Making the choice allows Bren to think she has control, and this girl is all about control....but unfortunately so is her Mom!

She works hard on her word of the day and writes it over and over until it looks just like mine. Then she turns her paper over and writes it from memory....and then she does a happy dance!

And then she poses for a picture with her word of the day that she has written all by herself!

Sometimes two pictures!

And then she hangs it on her word of the day tree. My intention was for this to just be a nice apple tree, but so far almost every word of the day has made it on to this tree in some form or another.

Bren's chart is getting full of stickers! It's even fuller now as this photo was taken last week. If she keeps this up she'll win the grand prize in a few weeks..... a movie date! She and I will go see that karate panda movie if all goes well.
Bren's Bible verse this week is Psalms 119:105.
For the first two days, this is how she said it....
"Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light for my pants!"
Well, you just never know when you might need your pants lit up!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Uncle Ray-Rays got one tooth chili!

We are the proud winners of this year's annual chili cook off at Faith Baptist Church!!

David created a masterpiece and gave it a name appropriate for his homeland.....and he won by a landslide! There were about 35 entries and taking home first place meant we got a gift certificate for Texas Roadhouse!

Yeee-hawwww! I see some prime rib in our future!


This is a kind of hodge podge post with a little of this and that.

I wanted to give a shout out to boutique cafe. They held a photo contest a while ago and I was one of the winners. I won with this photo......

and I won this great digital photo frame from Phillips.

Love it!!!


Bye-Bye dork boot!!!

So at my first physical therapy appointment, I was told that the boot has got to go! I was given instructions to get my foot in a tennis shoe over the weekend.

Task complete!

I managed to get my big ole swollen foot into my own tennis shoe and I can even stand on it and sorta limp walk with the assistance of just one crutch! I've still got a long road ahead of me, but this is MAJOR progress for me!

I've also got a long list of excercises to do to try to work out the stiffness in my ankle and improve my range of motion.

So long dork boot! I can't say I'll miss ya!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

All Dolled Up!!

The eye shadow and lipstick were flying in Bren's room today! It's a lazy Saturday for us with no plans for venturing outside the house into the snow covered world.

I heard giggles coming from Bren's room and I had to grab my camera! Madison and Bren were fully emersed in makeover-ville and I wasn't about to miss the opportunity to immortalize the moment!
It wont be long until Madison is a teenager and a new set of priorities will demand her time. The allure of little girlhood will soon be replaced by the first hints of womanhood. The batting of Bren's eyes as she requests a bit of Madison's time to play will no longer have as strong of a hold over Madison as more grown up ventures will.

It will be a sad day when the seven years that separate them start to take their effect, but today I have them like this. Today they are just two little girls playing make over on a flowery bed. Today Bren has her big sister's undivided attention. Today no boys are calling the house to take Bren's best friend away. Today there is no one else in the world but the two of them.

Oh how I wish I could keep it this way! But I hear the clock ticking, even through my fingers which are pushed tightly against my's ticking louder every day. Madison can't sit at Bren's tea party table forever though. A change is on the horizon.

But change doesn't have to be bad. What a lucky girl Bren is to have Madison walk the road of life before her! As Madison grows, I hope she will continue to be a good example for Bren. Bren's impressionable eyes are watching her big sister very closely. Madison is a very smart, level headed, compassionate girl and I'd be proud if Bren followed in her footsteps!

Thank you, Madison, for being such an adoring big sister to Bren. As you stand in the doorway between the little girl world and the teenage world, thank you for still embracing the imaginary, for still welcoming fairies and make-believe and for still lighting up Bren's world with your charm, with your time and with your love.
You are the best, sweetie!