An Ode To the Front Yard

One of my favorite things about our house is our yard. It’s not massive. But that means that it’s easier to take care of (or rather, it’s easier for Ryan to take care of…he’s the king of the yard…)

This summer, our girls spent way more time in the yard than they ever have. I am always impressed with how creative they can get with their imaginative play while outdoors. Sticks become swords, sure. But sticks also become magic wands, tools for making food, bows, tracks, and landing areas for dragons.

The girls wanted to be sure that they had time to pick dandelions. However, partly because Ryan is the king of the yard, and probably partly because these girls are frequently running back and forth and back and forth and back and forth around the whole yard – we just didn’t have  many dandelions this summer. But, the girls definitely had a lot of fun in the yard.

There were several days in which all that they wanted to do was have a “mud party.” You can see the aftermath of one of those parties in the pic below lol.

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The list thus far:

  • Go to Disney World.
  • Pick blueberries.
  • Go bowling.
  • Bake some treats.
  • See outdoor movies.
  • Go to the museums.
  • Go to LEGO Discovery Center.
  • Visit Brookfield Zoo.
  • Go to Morton Arboretum to see the Lego sculptures.
  • Visit the Art Institute.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Have a slumber party.
  • Have a pajama day.
  • Watch movies at home.
  • Visit Granny and Pa.
  • Visit Mimi and Pa.
  • Have a beach day.
  • Pick dandelions out of the yard.
  • See fireworks.
  • Go to the splash pads.
  • Visit Chinatown.
  • Play outside.
  • Have tea at American Girl.
  • Play in our house.

Living the Suite Life

So, if you follow my stories on Instagram, you know that we recently went through a huge renovation in our bathroom. Some would call it a “complete gut job.” In fact, that’s exactly what it was. The entire bathroom was gutted – new floors (including new subfloor), new walls, new fixtures, new tile. New everything.

Now, many people do renovations. This is nothing new. But, our house is a one bathroom house. Living without a bathroom was not an option. And, this is during the school year so we couldn’t just travel to the grandparents’ houses and invade for a week or so. (Side note: this was not at all our preferred time of year for a reno….but our rotting/soft subfloor made it necessary to not wait until a later date….).

Our solution? We lived the suite life for a little over two weeks. Yep. We lived in a hotel. So, read on to find out more about our renovation and more about what we learned about doing a renovation with kids….during the school year.


The Renovation – Week 1

It took longer than expected to get the bathroom ready for the renovation, but we cleared out all of the “stuff” from the bathroom on night of Sunday, October 28th. I took this pic before leaving for work on the morning of the 29th.

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Goodbye, bathroom! Demolition began that day while we were at work (and while Ryan was working from home.)

 

 

I was amazed at how quickly demolition happened. Although, it’s hard to see in these pics, we quickly figured out that there were some major issues that would need to be addressed. I felt like I was living an episode of a renovation show on HGTV. Pipes would need to be updated (and installed correctly). Wiring would need to be redone (and installed correctly….and safely). One of the biggest shocks? The possibility that we could’ve actually been shocked – or worse – while taking a shower because there was electrical behind the shower. What?!

Buddy (our cat) was locked in our bedroom with a brand new litter box, her water bowl, and her food. It wasn’t ideal but at least this way she would be safe and away from the construction, if she felt panicked (and I’m sure she did at some point) she would not be able to try to sneak out of the house, and she could stay home.

That night, we moved into our suite in the hotel. The word “suite” makes it sound fancy, but, it was pretty small. We knew we needed two rooms (suite) so that Ryan and I could still be watching tv, working, etc. after we had put the girls to bed.

During this first week in the hotel we had: Halloween, packet-pickup for the Hot Chocolate 5K (Lily’s first 5K), and the 5K.

Some things that we learned during this time:

The most mundane activities can be made fun simply because they are different. Doing laundry at the laundromat? Addy loved it!

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We tried to make the hotel room as home-like as possible. But, of course, that’s not totally possible. It will never feel totally like home. But, when we moved into the hotel, Ryan brought the girls’ trays. At home, we use these trays for homework, coloring books, Legos, snacks, and meals. In the hotel room, they functioned as all of those things and were necessary because we did not have a table in our room.

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Our hotel had a hot breakfast available every morning. We would take advantage of that space during dinner after picking up something from the nearby grocery store. No, we couldn’t really cook anything (we could heat up in the microwave). And there wasn’t much space to store food but it was nice to eat something that felt more like being at home.

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Throughout the renovation, we would try to get home once a day – Ryan would stop by the house every day to see the progress, and to give Buddy some snuggle time with one of her people. The girls and I probably got home every other day.

After the first week in the hotel, we learned the importance of getting out of the room. Ryan would take the girls down to one of the meeting rooms on the bottom floor of the hotel and just let them run around. Very necessary. Very very necessary.

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There is a very fine, fine line between keeping the schedule and routine as normal as possible and acknowledging that nothing is really quite normal and the routine won’t really be routine.


The Renovation – Week 2

During the second week of the renovation, the bathroom started to actually look like the final product. The tile, the tub, the floor – all of that getting installed was such an important step in allowing us to really imagine what our bathroom was going to look like.

However, the bathroom was not ready to use yet. It was beneficial for me, to be able to see the progress and be able to picture in my head how beautiful it was going to be once completed.

During Week 2, it became more and more important to get out of the hotel room whenever possible. None of us were sleeping very well and hadn’t for quite some time. We all missed our own beds, we missed being home, we missed Buddy. (That poor cat was so stressed out with us not being home!)

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So, we would leave to see a movie. We would leave to see Christmas decorations.

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We would leave just to wander around the mall for a bit. It was important to get out, just get out, even if we didn’t really have a reason.


 

The Renovation – Week 3

Luckily, the third week did not last a full week. On Tuesday, we were able to move back home. The bathroom wasn’t completely functional yet (shower and sink weren’t ready) but it had a working toilet!

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The most important part, for me, during these first days of Week 3 was to clean, clean, and clean some more. There was dust, well, everywhere. We all dusted, swept, vacuumed, Swiffered, and did all of that repeatedly. Laundry was done. And more laundry was done.

Finally, on Wednesday, November 14th – the entire renovation was complete!

I can not fully explain in words just how amazing that first shower felt in the new bathroom. I mean…really….words do not exist to fully explain it. But, also the knowledge that this was a safe and clean room in our house that was rebuilt and reinstalled correctly – up to proper standards and safety codes… something that we learned had not been the case when we bought the house…. well, that meant more than anything. There constant mildew and mold in the bathroom? Well, that won’t happen anymore because the venting actually vents! The soft spots in the floor? Well, those are gone and brand new floors (properly installed floors!) took their place.


The Renovation – The Conclusion

Some takeaways…..

  • It was worth it. Definitely worth it.
  • It was stressful. Those days, and the weeks leading up to it, were some of our most stressful. But, we did it.
  • It wasn’t cheap. And seeing those large numbers was a little, well, the numbers made me feel nauseous leading up to the demolition days. But, once it started, I was able to finally really think of these numbers as a true investment. An investment in our house. An investment in our family.
  • Would we do something different about our living arrangement if we were to do it all over again? Honestly, I think that we did the best that we could. It had to happen within the time frame that it did. It would’ve been great to have done it during summer so we could just go on vacation, but, it really was the best option.
  • Would I go through a renovation again? Well, I’m already thinking about a kitchen reno….so there’s that. But, hopefully, it wouldn’t be a situation in which we would be required to do it during a certain time for our own safety. Hopefully, we would be able to leave and stay with family and come back to a new kitchen. lol
  • But, again,  it was worth it. Definitely worth it.

 

Have you done a renovation in your house? What did you do?

Garden Update

Finally! Spring has arrived! Our daffodils, in the front yard, are blooming and they look beautiful. The tulips have not shown much growth yet and are still pretty short, and definitely not blooming yet, but the bright yellow of the daffodils definitely looks like spring has arrived.

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What is growing in your garden? What plants are you looking forward to seeing soon?

Two years ago….

Most of the times, when Facebook reminds me of my “memories” from past years, I smile for a few minutes but then move on. I rarely “reshare” the post. However, today’s memory from two years ago was an important one for me.

So, apologies to my Facebook friends who also happen to follow my blog. This will be a repeat. 🙂

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Two years ago. After looking at 75 houses. After making 9 offers on 8 of those. After so much stress. And disappointment. And more stress. And wondering if we would ever be able to accomplish the goal of home ownership. Two years ago. Finally. We were able to hold the keys to our house. Since then we’ve battled weeds, blizzards, trees, noisy and stinky wildlife, and the previous owner’s choices. But, right now I’m watching cartoons with big girl, I can hear baby girl starting to wake up, I can see our beautiful front yard, I can hear our dryer running……and although it hasn’t been easy I’m so proud that we’ve been able to do this for our girls, ourselves,…..and the cats.