Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Bucket List Bingo Update #1

We're about two weeks into vacation, and we're making pretty good progress on our board!

On our very first night of summer vacation, we did our movie night square! We had Pad Thai for dinner while watching Lego Batman.

On one of our crazy busy days (weeding and yardwork all morning then looking at houses #5 and #6 in the afternoon), we surprised the kiddos with Applebee's for dinner.

And then we did two boxes at once! We took Mason for a hike at the park AND picked wild blackberries all in one afternoon! We were tired of house projects and it was a gorgeous day, so we took the afternoon off for some much needed family time.

We also played at the playground for a bit afterwards.

And as you may have noticed, our board is all filled in with activities! We ended up choosing something that wasn't on our possibility list. On the way out of the park today, we noticed a bigger playground that we hadn't ever noticed before. Because we all love the park and it won't be in our backyard once we move (actually it's our front yard...), we decided going back to try out that playground would be the perfect last square in our board!

What fun things have you done so far this summer?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

House #6

This is the house that has broken the "Shawna is refusing to look at any other house" problem.

Honestly, the main reason we went to go look at it is to check it off our list and say we looked and can move on. We love the 4 bedroom, 2 car attached garage, fenced in backyard aspect.

We really didn't like that it's only slightly bigger than what we have now, meaning the bedrooms or living areas are probably smaller than what we have now.

Also, it's a ranch. We have a ranch now, and there are definitely perks to it. But if we could choose, we'd probably choose a 2 story house. I did go on Pinterest and look up some ideas to make it have some curb appeal, and I loooove these porch ideas!

I love porches on houses!

But it's still a ranch...and we went and looked anyway.

We weren't there very long; we knew another group of people were coming in right after us, so we didn't want to be in the way or interfere with their viewing.

We walked into the breezeway, and it had plenty of space for us to put in a bench, lockers/closets for our coats, bags, and shoes, and it also had a door to the fenced in backyard.

The breezeway led up into the living room with the dining room on the right. Right away we could tell that it was going to be the living spaces that were smaller; the kitchen was also on the smaller side as well.

All four bedrooms were on the main level, and they were all a really really good size! We were shocked by that, and could make all of them work for us all. The boys loved the idea of having their own rooms! The master bedroom had the half bath, and in the hall was the full bathroom. It was small, but useable.

We went to the basement, and oh man, it's the basement of our DREAMS. It had a big space for the kids to play with two smaller rooms right off of it. One would be my office, and the other could be a guest room, exercise room, or even take the wall down for a bigger space for the kiddos. On the other side of the stairs was more storage, a walk out area, and the laundry.

The backyard could be accessed from the breezeway, basement, dining room, and it had a gate in the fence from next to the garage. When you walked out the dining room door, it was a big deck with a smaller deck that led to the pool. We were a little leery about they yard as it was only half of an acre, but the fenced in area seemed huge! It had a shed in a corner, the pool, a small swing set, an elevated playhouse for the kids, and a concrete patio that had a basketball hoop. We loved that Mason could run around loose with us, there was room for playing and a garden, and really have a space to enjoy the outdoors.

One of our favorite parts of the house was the view:

Just amazing.

We also checked out the two car attached garage, and there was definitely enough room for the vehicles, a work bench, and other things we have. The driveway was also big enough for vehicles to park (even with company) and not have to park in the garage as well.

There were so many things we loved about this house. But the thing we're really worried about is how small the kitchen, dining room and living room areas are. We could blow out a wall and redo the kitchen and dining room, but it's still small. We could have a small sitting area and have it mostly be kitchen and dining room upstairs, and then in the kid's area have that be the main living room space. But, then we run into the problem for reselling later and the cost of such a big remodel.

We're not completely against this house. It has so many of the things we are looking for, but that big project to make the living space work more for us has us not really excited about the house either, if that makes sense. We're continuing to think about it and keep it as an option.

Would you prefer a ranch house or two story?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

House #5

Oh how we've put off looking at this house for such a long time!

Well, part of that was because it actually went under contract with a buyer, but somehow the deal fell through. We also didn't really have time in June to look at houses, either. When we'd talk about this house, we thought it might be big enough for us, but we just are not big fans of raised ranch style houses. Okay, we know it's a colonial according to online listings, but honestly, it looks more like a raised ranch:

This just so happens to be the house of Ryan's first grade teacher's aunt, so we've talked to Ry's teacher  (Sandy) about it, but were still on the fence. As you may have read in my house hunting problem blog post, we've been dragging our feet about seeing any houses, but getting impatient about not finding one. It's hard to find a house when you're not looking, though!

Logic is not my strong suit.

Anyway, we were at Sandy's son's grad party, and people were asking how the house hunting was going. We had an appointment lined up for House #6, and a lot of people were mixed on it being a good fit for us. Then they'd mention we should look at Sandy's aunt's house, and one of the families even mentioned it's right next to their house! I asked Sandy if she knew if there was hardwood under the carpeting in the bedrooms; the floor downstairs was all hardwood, but upstairs seemed to be mostly carpet. She asked her aunt, and yes, it's all hardwood under the carpet! I immediately texted our realtor, and within an hour we had an appointment for right before seeing House #6.

We were still dragging our feet a little about seeing it due to the color and style of the house, so that night I turned to Pinterest for some ideas on what we could do to make it more "us" if we loved the house.

And Pinterest didn't disappoint!

Can't you imagine the house in this color?

With a front porch (one of the top things on our wish list) like this????

Hello, gorgeous!

Now these, of course, wouldn't be things we'd do right away, but just knowing that there was a way to fix it up and that we could save for it would be pretty awesome.

I also started daydreaming about the three season/sun room in the back...

Daydreaming is probably not the best thing to do; I don't want to get my hopes up, but I also like going into houses having an idea of how I'd use the space.

And let me just tell you, this house was not what I was expecting at all. The space is a lot more flexible for layouts or even uses for rooms than I was thinking!

We walked in the front door that used to be the second car garage. I was expecting it to be the family room space, but it was actually a mudroom! It had space for some lockers/closets for our coats and shoes and a bench. To the left was the garage, and we would probably use it as a workshop for Pete, as well as storage for things like my festival tent, cooler, and our kayak.

I'm sorry it's blurry!!!!

We then went into the house into the family room space. It was a little smaller than I was thinking, but it would be a great hangout space for the kids, or even a computer room, music room, or library!

Behind this room was the entrance to the sun room. It was bigger than I was expecting, and did have a heater in it, so we might be able to use it (or upgrade it) to a four season room. It walked out to the backyard, too.

The kitchen and dining room were right off of the family room space as well. We knew that the kitchen was small, but the dining room was a really great size. We could definitely fit our table and chairs in there, even fully extended, and then have a couple nice cupboards for extra kitchen storage and our coffee bar along the side of the room with no problem.

The living room. Oh how we loved this room! It is HUGE!!!!! There's so much flexibility for how we could arrange our furniture, and even possibly get another love seat or couch and still have space for kids to play in there.

The half bathroom was downstairs, and it was a really nice size. I would probably rearrange the room a little and move the sink across from the toilet, but it was definitely a workable space as it was.

The basement, although dark, was a really nice space, too! I already picked out where my office would go! And the best part? It has a Harry Potter cupboard!!!!!

But the office space was plenty big for all of my things, and I could have office AND studio space all together with no problem!

There was also a nice sized space for the kids to have a bigger space for playing or hanging out with friends.

There was also a laundry room/storage space as well.

The upstairs had three bedrooms, a full bath, and a closet space. The master bedroom would actually be the boy's room. It was HUGE! It was probably bigger than our current living room. It also had three closets in it; the boys would each get a closet for their clothes and dresser, and the third smaller closet had shelves in it for books or toys.
Waiting patiently to go check
out the upstairs!

Closet of awesomeness!

The other two bedrooms were smaller but manageable in size. I liked the closet at the end of the hall; I'd use it for the kid's extra clothing instead of having it two floors down in the basement, as well as for extra or off season linens.

We really liked the backyard as well. It's a blank slate: no gardens, no pool, nothing that told us how to use the space (with the exception of the clotheslines!). But there was plenty of space for us to put in a pool and deck, a big garden, a volleyball net, etc. The kids loved that we'd have so much space for playing soccer or baseball, and the kid's swing set could come with us, too!

The neighborhood is wonderful. We've heard great things about the street, and it's really close to the school. We'd only have neighbors on one side, but the neighbors are a complete deal breaker. Okay, not really, we're friends with them and would enjoy living next to them ;)

We're not completely set on this being the house for us, but it's also not a definite no. I can definitely see us living here and enjoying the house. There is a lot we'd have to do to make it "ours," but it's things we could do and do it over time. We just have to sit and really think about our priorities and what we're willing to compromise on or work with to make it what we'd like.

What are your must haves or deal breakers when looking for a house?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

House Hunting Problems

It's been awhile since I've posted about our house search...and nothing has changed since the last update.

I'm feeling pretty frustrated, not because there's nothing out there or because I want to be done already (well, both are frustrating, but not the main cause of frustration). I really really really thought House #4 was going to be it for us. And because it's not, I'm feeling let down, bummed, sad...frustrated.

I thought you'd be The One!

I'll be honest: house hunting for our second house is MUCH harder than the first time. Last time had the usual house hunting requirements: this many bedrooms and bathrooms, under this price, etc. This time it's those requirements PLUS we have something to compare it to. And that just makes life harder.

We absolutely love the house we're in now. We really and truly do. The bedrooms are big enough, it feels open and bigger than it really is, the kids have a play room, I have an office and studio, there is so much storage space, it's a quiet neighborhood....the list goes on and on of how awesome this house is. The only problem with it is that it's in the wrong school district. Finding something just as amazing as this house within our budget is near impossible right now.

There are quite a few houses on the market where we're looking. Most of them are really nice houses or have the potential to be a really nice house for us. Some may need work or even a full addition to make it what we're looking for or need, which we don't mind doing...except they're already at the price where it doesn't make sense for our budget to do that. Other houses would be perfect, but we really like food and lights that work, and in order to get the houses, there would be empty bellies and lots of candles lighting our home because we'd be way above budget.

We have considered building. We've spoken to one contractor and hope to talk to another, but building a house plus getting the land is going to probably put us either at our budget limit or above it. We've thought about buying a run down house and just fixing it up as time and our budget allows, but they're either on waaaay too small of a lot or an online auction buying it sight unseen., thank you.

But I want to see what your inside looks like!!!!

At this point we're still hopeful that we'll find something this year and are still finishing getting our house ready. There are a couple people who have expressed interest in our house, which is wonderful, and having our house sold would make the process a lot faster for us to buy...but we have no place to stay while we search, and on the off chance we don't find something until next year, us staying here without selling first just makes life easier all around.

So that is where we stand right now. We just keep plugging along on getting our house ready while we patiently wait for The One to come on the market!

What are some things you'd be looking for in a house?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Summer Bucket List

For the past couple of years, our family has made a summer bucket list of things we'd like to do. We don't have many rules about what goes on the list; we don't limit it to free or local activities, but as long as it is something we can all agree on and doesn't break the bank, it goes on the list :)

Now, just having a regular bucket list is all well and good, but we like to kick it up a notch and make it more fun and exciting: we put it on a BINGO board!

We always get super excited to get a BINGO, and when one box can make multiple BINGOs, that's just even better!!!!

Our goal for this year is something we have not been able to do yet: fill in our entire board.

It's a big challenge, I just hope we're up to it!

What's on our list this year:
  • Dewitt Park to Blondie's. Our friend Jess mentioned that this park has a trail that leads to Blondie's, and what's better than taking a long walk and getting an ice cream all at the same time?
  • Mario Kart night. A video game night of some sort always ends up on our list! This year the kids chose Mario Kart :)
  • Glow stick bowling. We had this on our list last year, and we never were able to accomplish it. We have all the supplies still, so a free activity is a great thing to have!
  • Camping. We've been meaning to go camping with our friends Stephen and Vanessa the past couple of years, but we've never been able to make the schedules work. If it doesn't work again this year, we kept it fairly general so camping in our backyard will also work for this square.
  • Tim Horton's trip. We don't stop here often (unless we have a gift card or someone needs a donut after a shot/blood work), so this is a cheap and super special treat!
  • Drive in movie. We LOVE the Silver Lake Twin Drive In, and I think we're going to go try and see Despicable Me 3 when it comes out soon! This is one of our favorite things to do during the summer, so it is a must for our list.
  • Fishing at the cousin's house. Pete's sister and brother-in-law just got a new house last year, and it has a stocked pond. The kids love to fish, so we were invited to put fishing at their pond on our bucket list!
  • Applebee's. We have a couple gift cards here, and it's the kid's favorite restaurant (and there's food I can eat there, too!).
  • Game night. We love our board games! We have a closet filled in our play room and 3/4 of our coffee bar is filled with more board games. This is always one of the first things the kids ask for on our bucket list!
  • Make cookies for a neighbor. I want to try and have the kids be thinking more of others and doing random acts of kindness, and this is a great way for us to bond as a family as well as think of our neighbors!
  • Family baseball. This is Ryan's favorite square! He keeps asking to do this one, but it's always when we have someplace to go, it's pouring, or it is so humid out we can't breathe without breaking a sweat!
  • Letchworth. This one was added a few months ago when I was thinking about applying to the Letchworth Arts and Craft Show in October. I have lived in this area for almost 11 years, and still have never made it to this park. It's quite sad. I'm hoping this will be the summer we finally go!
  • Berry picking. This could be any kind of berry at any location. We try and pick blueberries every year, and we used to do strawberry picking. We love to take hikes in the Genesee County Park, and they have wild berries there, so we'll stop and pick them when we've completed our walk. Any of those can fill up this square!
  • Buffalo Museum of Science. We went over spring break, and loved it! The kids can't wait to go back. We just renewed and upgraded our membership, so each time we go, we can take one extra kid. Pete and I will be taking Ry while Paige and Nate are at camp, so we're anxious to see who he chooses to bring along.
  • Play date. We try to get together with Pete's coworker and her family at least once every summer, but we're also thinking about having the kids each pick a friend and having them meet us at the school playground as an option (or addition!) for the summer.
  • Dinner at Five Guy's. Pete and I love this as a date night option when we have errands to run, and the kids are anxious to try it as well. This was Nate's #1 pick for the list this year!
  • Bike riding. Ryan just got a new bike for his birthday, and all the kids want to ride this summer. We don't really have a place to ride where we live, so we don't really do it. Ever. So this would be a special thing!
  • Movie night at home. Oh how we love these! Eating dinner in the living room while watching a glowing screen with moving pictures? Amazing.
  • Fireworks. Last year we saw an amazing firework show at the kid's school for their field days, and we're hoping to go back again this year! If we miss it, sometimes we can see them at our house when neighbors put on a show.
  • Make a new flavor of gelato. This is another favorite of ours! We have a gelato machine, and we love trying new recipes. Last year I think we did a peanut butter cup, a lemon blueberry, and peanut butter. So. Good.
  • Geneseo Movie Theater. We have movie tickets there that were given to us, it's just trying to find the time and a movie we all want to see!
  • Campfire cookout and s'mores. We LOOOOOVE cooking out over a campfire, and then roasting marshmallows afterwards for s'mores!
  • Take Mason on a hike. Our pupper LOVES taking a walk, especially at the park where there's shade and a breeze, and the kids love bringing him for snuggles in the van on the way to the park!
If you're a math person and have tallied up how many things are on our list for our 5x5 BINGO board, two boxes should be empty. One just happens to be the free space, and the other one...well, we just can't decide what activity to put there! We have so many to choose from, and are really having a hard time picking from the list of other possibilities. 

Some things we have on the list of possibilities are:
  • Air and Space museum in Washington D.C. We really really want to do this either on our way down or way back from the Outer Banks. However, we're not sure when Paige's middle school orientation will be, so once we know when that is, we'll know if we're going to be able to make this happen or not.
  • Virtual Reality. Our library has this now, and I think it would be really fun to try as a family!
  • Geocaching. Pete especially has wanted to do this for awhile, and I just saw that our county just set up a geocaching trail all over the county, so I think this would be a fun thing to try!
  • Move. A lot of people suggested this one, and we LOVE this idea!!!! However, that's kind of out of our hands, so we'd hate for this to be the one square that would keep us from filling in our board!
  • Memorizing scripture. Nate has been asking about this one, and we love this idea. But we're not sure what or how much we'd do, so that's the only reason it's on the back burner.
  • Go swimming. We have a pool, so this one should be easy to do. However, it's either been too rainy or too cold, so we're not sure when this would actually happen!
Finding things to do that work with our schedule and won't completely blow our budget is what's challenging at this point!

I'll be posting updates regularly on how we're doing. If you want to do a BINGO board bucket list, this is the board we use (and it's free!). 

What would you put on your summer bucket list? We're always looking for new or additional ideas!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Boston Trip: Day #3

Ahhhh, the last day of the trip.

We were really enjoying Boston, but we were ready to go home. Everyone was exhausted, and our super loud crazy bus was sooooo quiet for the first hour or two that morning as so many people were napping.

We stopped for lunch in Cobleskill quickly, and then it was a quick drive over to Howe Caverns.

I've been in caverns before (but can't remember which one it was), but this one was a lot different than I remembered the other one being. We got to ride an elevator down to where the tour started, then started in exploring the caverns.

Paige really loved riding in the boat along the water up to the waterfall!

My favorite part (which I didn't photograph) was the winding way. It's a pathway that's 300 feet long, has about 60 twists and turns, and ranges in height and widths!

After the tour everyone was able to grab a snack or souvenir shop, and then back on the bus. A couple hours later we stopped for dinner, and then the last stretch home....which was not the smoothest sailing.

At one point of the drive we were in Manchester, and everyone was getting antsy and just wanted to be home. I heard a gasp, so I looked up at the people across the aisle from us, and they were all panicking and bracing against the seats in front of them. Paige and I looked out the front window and saw a semi truck riiiiight in front of our window, and thankfully, our bus driver, Ron, is the best bus driver in the world and got us to a stop mere inches from the back bumper of the semi. We all let out a sigh of relief, but then saw the semi pull off to the side of the road....along with our other bus that had been in front of the semi.

Thankfully, they only had a super minor fender bender, where our other bus was slowing down for a construction zone and the semi wasn't able to stop quickly enough. The back bumper of the bus was barely damaged from what we saw, and the semi was a little crunched. No one was hurt, but everyone was shaken up. Our bus ended up leaving the other behind while they exchanged information and filled out the police report, but they ended up not being to far behind us the rest of the trip home.

We were able to get back to school and got our things, then made the drive home. I was so excited to come home and see my guys, but both boys were asleep! Ry refused to wake up (they made me promise to wake them); Nate woke up, happy cried when he saw me, and then fell back asleep (and didn't remember seeing me when I asked him the next morning!).

I really enjoyed the trip, even though it was a lot jam packed into three days. Everyone was really tired, so there were some hiccups along the way with attitudes and tempers. Nate has begged me to go on his whale watch trip next year, and I am looking forward to it! I will be better prepared with what to expect and ways to keep kids happy on the bus or out and about in Boston, and just be able to really enjoy the trip knowing what to expect and take it all in better.

What is your best tip for traveling, especially with tweens? Let me (and Nate!) know in the comments below!