Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Keep on truckin'

I feel like my attention has been split between so many different things lately that I hardly feel like I've been present at all. I apologize for neglecting this blog a bit. Mostly I apologize to myself, because I really do see this blog as an important journal and family history. Here's what's been up.

1) Preparing to build a house. Cody and I try not to let our every waking thought dwell on the house and what will soon be, but it's hard to avoid. I think about the air conditioning, the color of the cabinets, the bushes in the front yard, the school Lee will attend, the neighborhood... every single aspect of our new home. We are so excited. It's kind of like being engaged--planning a life you're not yet living, and we are eager to get it going. On Thursday we went to an open house for some houses that were just completed. It was lots of fun to see the different decisions people had made and meet a few neighbors.

2) The Minot floods. You may or may not know that I grew up in Minot, North Dakota. It will always hold a very special place in my heart. Right now, Minot has been inundated by massive flooding. Around 4000 houses have been filled with water. Everyone in the vicinity has been affected though, with all the flood relief necessary. I have been worried sick and trying to think of anything and everything I can possibly do. It's been hard to focus on what's going on right here where I live now when I long so badly to be in Minot helping.

3) It is getting downright HOT! Again, if you know me, you'll know I am not a hot weather fan. But the little window AC unit we have in this house seems to be doing an okay job, and will hopefully be sufficient for this summer.

4) Annalisa cut her hair. Less than a week after I snipped her some very cute bangs, she found the scissors and cut them right off. GRR. She got in big trouble. I had hoped we wouldn't have to go through the self-haircut, but now I at least hope she learned her lesson and won't repeat it. (this picture shows off both her amazing hair cutting skills and her awesome post-spaghetti face)

5) We finally figured out our sprinkler system today. It took some help from Paul to find the on valve, but once we found it, the system started right up and is working well. And about time too, since the lawn is starting to die. I can't believe we've nearly made it to July without watering... It has been a very wet Spring.

6) Lee is about to turn 5! I can't believe it either.

7) ...and everything else that I forgot. I will try to be better at posting now.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The House: First day at the site

As you might have guessed, I will be using this blog to journal our home building. To give you a fair enough warning, each will bear the "The House:" pre-title. (Pre-title? does that even make sense?)

Yesterday (June 21) was the first "building" day on our house. But really, nearly every word in that sentence needs clarification. We've been attending classes, signing papers, emailing, faxing, searching and thinking ever since we found out we'd been bumped into the earlier group. It's been go-go-go, even though at times it feels like we're not doing anything. Like I said, roller coaster. Yesterday Cody went out to the neighborhood and helped five of our group members (there are nine of us total) stake the lots. Using stakes, string, spray paint, and tape measures, they determined where the house will sit and marked it off on the lot. On Monday, those five houses will be excavated, and next Tuesday they will have their foundations poured. Our house was not one of those five, but since we build as a group, we all help each other. Another week after that, we get to stake the last four lots (ours included), and start framing the ones that have foundations. So right now, we won't "build" again for another two weeks; though those two weeks will be filled with the remaining paperwork and the selection of all our fixtures, paint, floors, siding, etc. Cody took more pictures and a little movie of our lot. We are super excited!

A few fun pictures

Yes, I'm still here.

More updates coming very soon.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Lady at 3 months

Three months old! Our little Katie-Lady is growing and changing every day.

Lee has nicknamed her Katie Bubble. He says it's because her head looks like a bubble. It's a cute nickname, so we've let it stick.

Milestones: Katie is an awesome night sleeper. I thank Heavenly Father every night for that. She is also outgrowing her colic now, and is usually a very pleasant baby. She loves playing with people and being held. She doesn't like being left out of the action. She is starting to make yucky faces when we put the binkie in too early; but there are times that all she wants is her bink. She still loves her bath time and diaper changes--anything to be naked! We sure love her to pieces, and are very glad she is a part of our family.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

House plan

Yesterday we made a few phone calls and went out to the development to look at the lots and walk through house plans. It was very helpful. Both Cody and I changed our minds many times after seeing the floor plans in person, but have come to a conclusion that we feel really good about.

(Cody and Annalisa on our empty lot)

The lot is North-facing, the second one from the end (not a corner). The street we are on is quiet, and of course we are in the middle of this housing development--so everyone around us is or has done the same building program as us. There are lots of young families with kids our age--several of whom we already know. A nice, brand new elementary school is just around the corner, along with a new church building. Two blocks over is a big park.

And now the moment you've all been waiting for: what house plan will we pick? drumroll please....

Twilight! (remember that the basement is unfinished. All we will have down there are load bearing walls and roughed in plumbing.)
After we walked through the houses, Cody and I talked over every little detail. We prayed. Then we thought about it privately for a few minutes, and I finally said, "On three we say the name of the one we want, okay? One, two, three--" and we both definitively said, "Twilight." And that was that. I like the kitchen in Twilight and the living room. The master bedroom and the bathrooms are both bigger. The closets are divine, and there is wood flooring in the halls. But most importantly, it feels right and is what we want.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Change in Plans

We got a call from our building manager yesterday (Monday June 6). Someone dropped out of the June building program, opening up a slot and we've been bumped up. We start now--in fact, we're a little behind.


We were not expecting this at all. It is a major game changer. We talked about it and prayed about it, looked over house plans, even asked to still wait a month and a half for the next group. But then the building manager mentioned that funding is being cut, and they're running a risk of not even being able to do the next group. Are we willing to gamble our house away for first pick on floorplan, or a specific lot? No. Absolutely not. So, we took a deep breath and committed to start now.

So, we have a lot now. We won't get our first pick on house plan--the one I posted yesterday. We do have our second pick, though, and it is still really nice. I will post the plan later. Today we will go walk through the houses and make a final decision. I think I'll also swing by our lot and snap pictures.

Now I want all you out there in blog-o-space to understand: this is a big, intense project that we're very excited about. Cody will continue to work his normal jobs to support our family. He is the most dedicated and hard working man I know. With him already dedicating 60 hours plus a week to work, I know that a lot of the required building hours will be mine to fulfill. I have been purposefully leaving out specific information in regards to locations on purpose. Our new house will be about 15 minutes away from where we currently live. So really, while everything is changing, a lot will be staying the same.

We have a class tonight and I am writing a list of questions down. There is so much to learn and prepare for. Here we go!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Silly beans

The other day we were eating beans and rice for dinner. I told Anna, "You are silly beans!" She replied, "No, I'm not silly beans." Then she pointed to the beans on her plate and said, "That's a silly bean!" Of course, whether Annalisa admits it or not, we are one silly beans family.

Getting Excited

We're still about a month and a half to two months away from starting building our house, but we are already getting super excited! On Saturday, Cody and I went to a home ownership workshop for anyone thinking about purchasing a home (not just our building group). There was a pretty diverse group there, from a couple trying to buy a foreclosure, to a few just thinking about buying their first house, to us gearing up to build. It was a good workshop. They had a lender, a real estate agent, and an insurance guy come talk to us, as well as a few interns that did presentations. We learned about everything from budgeting and raising credit scores, through closing procedures and home maintenance--truly beginning to end, A-Z.

Something else pretty cool is that we met another couple that might be in the same building group as us (they are just waiting final approval, where we were a few weeks ago). They were really nice and have a son Annalisa's age. We talked a bit about swapping babysitting during the building process. It has got us all really excited, as this home is becoming more and more real.

Speaking of becoming more real, this is our favorite floor plan. Considering we secured the first slot in the building group, we get first pick on floor plan, lot, colors, etc. So I'm 99% sure we'll get our favorites. What do you think? Be honest, but don't tell me if you hate it. ;)

Main floor:

ps. Our major reasons for choosing this particular floorplan are: open kitchen/living/dining area, big cellar/fruit room in basement, the amazing mudroom/laundry area, and linen closets in all the bathrooms. The basement will be unfinished.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bagel time

(Click the picture for a link to the new tutorial)

I've been perfecting my homemade bagel recipe. It is super yummy, doesn't require any special equipment or ingredients, and always hits the spot. I've put together a tutorial on my food blog complete with pictures. The recipe has been up for a while, but now the tutorial is ready for show! Go check it out. I hope delicious homemade bagels are in your near future... ;)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011