Monday, June 26, 2017

Boston Trip: Day #2

Well, Day #1 started out with exhausted Apps girls....and Day #2 started with super crazy exhausted Apps girls.

You see, I am strange. I never sleep well my first night in a new place. There's too many new noises, smells, the bedding feels funny...I just can't sleep. And poor Paige, there was another group on her floor of the hotel that made noise into the wee hours of the morning. Not much sleeping was done, and that makes for a difficult day.

Our morning started off with continental breakfast in the hotel lobby, but as they're working on renovating their tiny meeting/dining room, my group of girls decided to take their food back up to their room for some peace and quiet. I thought that was a great idea!

Shortly after breakfast came boarding the bus again to head into Boston for the New England Aquarium! Pete had gone to Boston a few years ago with the Science Club, and he loved this aquarium. Paige and I were super excited to finally get to see what the hype was about, and we were not disappointed.

Waiting to get into the aquarium

Outside of the aquarium they have a harbor seal exhibit. Some of them were swimming around and splashing, but we liked the sleeping lazy ones the best!

Inside, we went to the ray touch tank first. I guess I didn't know what I thought they would feel like, but they felt kind of squishy yet rubbery, almost like what I thought a dolphin would feel like. There were two that hung around us a lot, and we named them Flappy (because he'd flap and splash us) and Happy (because he'd act happy to see us there!).

Next were the penguins for my penguin loving girlie!

In the main exhibit area is a huge (and when I say huge, I mean HUGE like four stories high, 40 feet wide, 200,000 gallons huge!) tank in the middle that a ramp goes up and around so you can see all of the layers of creatures in the tank. They had so many varieties of fish and sea creatures in there, even some scuba divers cleaning/checking on the creatures! We spent most of our time here, so we weren't able to go see all of the tanks on each floor.

The top of the tank

We were under strict orders to find the giant octopus. It was Pete's favorite thing when he was there, so we had to find him and say hi. And goodness, were the octopi amazing! They were just sitting around, but, they were huge and gorgeous!

Octopus on the front of the tank

I also found this pretty boy; he loved posing for a picture!

We checked out the gift shop while we were there, and had lunch in the cafe. Everyone was getting super nervous for the whale watch at this point; we had to take medicine for sea sickness, and a lot of the kids (and even me) were so afraid of getting sick on the boat. A lot of the kids also had Sea Bands (Paige and I got some as well), and I had ginger ale, so I felt as prepared as I could be for the boat.

Finally, it was time to board our boat for the whale watch. It docks right next to the aquarium, making for a quick walk over. Paige, her friend and her dad (my co-chaperone) and I all went up to the top deck, but Paige started feeling sick almost immediately. I figured it was mostly nerves, but we went to the main deck and she started feeling better once the boat got going. Once the boat is out of the harbor, it goes really really fast! I'm glad we were told to bring sweatshirts, because boy, does it get COLD on the boat!
On board the whale watch, watching everyone outside of the aquarium

Some of our group on the main deck
looking down from the top deck

We drove out for quite awhile, and then stopped and waited for a whale....then drove a bit some more and waited....and still nothing. The crew on the boat were really trying hard to get us a whale; apparently their policy is if there's no whale, they give you a fee pass to go back on another watch. As that would be expensive for them to do, they do whatever it takes for everyone to see a whale!

About the time a lot of the passengers were feeling like we wouldn't see a whale, one of the crew members who had been telling us all facts about whales over the PA system starts yelling that there's a whale at 1 o'clock (they had instructed us on that 12 o'clock is the front of the boat, 6 o'clock is the back, so when a whale was spotted everyone would know where to look). And sure enough, there he was!

A little later there was another whale spotting at 11 o'clock!

And then again later at about 8 o'clock. I didn't get pictures of this one as it was farther out, but it was really neat. One of the ladies we were standing with spotted where a whale was in the distance, then Paige saw the spray, and then the crew saw it and alerted everyone else!

There had been evidence of a whale again, but we unfortunately had to head back into shore. Neither one of us got sick, and it was such an amazing experience!

Fun fact: there are four big engines on the boat. One of them can fill up the huge tank in the aquarium in FOUR MINUTES. That is craaaazy!

Once we got back to shore, we walked a few blocks over to the Quincy Market for dinner and shopping. We had three hours for food and souvenirs, and Paige and I pretty much hung out just the two of us for that time. We got smoothies for dinner (we weren't overly hungry), got souvenirs for us and gifts for the guys, and watched a street performer!

We were hoping for a slow trip back to the hotel as a lot of the kids had fallen asleep, but as it was after rush hour, we made it back in about 25 minutes. The kids woke up, and then it was pool party #2. Only two of my girls wanted to swim, so they went in and the other two visited and relaxed on the pool deck. After a short while, they all decided to go watch tv in their room. I went to our chaperone meeting, called and talked to Pete, and did lights out for the girls between 9:30 and 10....and then I passed out and barely moved until 6 the following morning! I was just a liiiiitle tired ;)

Day #3 will be up on the blog soon: the long and slightly eventful drive home and our stop at Howe Caverns!

Have you ever gone on a whale watch? What is your favorite aquarium? 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Boston Trip: Day #1

When Paige started up at her new school in the fall, we heard that there was going to be an amazing trip at the end of the school year for the sixth graders: a three day trip to Boston, featuring a whale watch! She was super excited about it, and when they asked for chaperones, so was I!

She's been fundraising all year (the other kids started fundraising in fourth grade), and between what she raised and funds from one of her friends who over-raised money, she was fully paid for! We only had to pay for my portion, woo hoo!

We planned, packed, and counted down the days until our trip.

And finally the day arrived for us to depart!

Day #1:

We had to be up around 5 to get to school around 6. The bus was going to leave at 6:15, and as I was chaperoning, I had to be there early to get my group settled in. Buuuut, as we had to be up so early, I hardly slept in fear of oversleeping. I had three alarms set, but still I didn't sleep well. And to make it worse? Around 4:30 that morning raccoons decided to be partying/fighting in the tree riiiiight outside of our bedroom window. Starting a long day of travel off exhausted is never fun.

Sleepy faces, ready to head to school!

We got to school around 6, I met my co-chaperone, and we got our four girls situated on the bus. Our group worked out really well; all four girls each had a parent on the trip, and we were the only group that had two official chaperones!

The trip down was mostly uneventful; there may have been a u-turn in a non-u-turn area, but that's besides the point ;)

On the bus!

Reading the book Dad got
her in Boston a few years ago!

We actually made it to Boston earlier than we had originally planned. We let the kids burn off some energy in this fountain area before our Duck Tour around the city.

Paige and her roommate enjoying the sunshine

A lot of us parents were very confused about what a Duck Tour was. Many of us thought that we were going to go to something like a zoo just for ducks or looking for special ducks around Boston, and me, well, you can tell I love the Outer Banks because I think of Duck and Duck Donuts! Ducks are actually amphibious vehicles that were used in WWII for unloading cargo onto beaches, and these ones have been modified to be more comfortable for the tours.

A Duck!

The tour was really neat, seeing various parts of town. The narrator (we had Sgt. Meatball!) makes it enjoyable, giving historical information while keeping it fun. I don't remember what all of my pictures were, but some of them were things like where Edgar Allen Poe was born, a library, a piece of the Berlin Wall, the bar that inspired the tv show Cheers, and my favorite, the Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge!

Sgt. Meatball beginning our tour

Where Edgar Allen Poe was born

Love this bridge!


We also went in the water with it, and a few of Paige's classmates got to drive the boat:

Paige's friend driving the Duck!

Skyline of Boston

A boathouse! I had to get a pic for Boathouse ;)

I really liked the tour; it was a quick way to see the city and see a few of the important landmarks. I think I'd really like to go back and do a walking tour or just walk around the city. I loved that we did that in New York City in October last year, and I feel like I didn't really get to experience Boston, just got a quick little taste of it. Looks like I'm just going to have to go back!

After the tour, it was time to head back to the hotel. Unfortunately, it was rush hour traffic, so our 12ish mile trip took an hour and we were running late for check in and dinner. But, we got there in one piece, got everyone unloaded and settled in, and then it was pool party and dinner time!

Pizza and swimming!

Paige and a couple friends; the boy was her classmate
in preschool as well! They're happy to be reunited!

The pool was the perfect way to get everyone's energy out after a long day on the bus! They had a lot of fun, and although it was really loud in there, it was a great time for the adults and chaperones on the bus to put their feet up for a few minutes.

After the student meeting was the chaperone meeting, and then finally, lights out for the kids around 10. It was a long day, but the long and exciting day was about to begin! Stay tuned for the Day #2 post: New England Aquarium, Whale Watch, and Quincy Market!

Have you ever been to Boston? What was your favorite part?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Master Bedroom Reveal

We have one room fully finished and ready for selling! Woo hoo!!!!

Welcome to our master bedroom!

I love this room so much. The calming and relaxing blue on the walls, the new carpet, the large window that looks out to the front trees, the large closet....our next bedroom has a lot to live up to!

This room was fairly easy to get ready. The windows had already been replaced in October of 2015, so it was just to finish painting the trim around the window, touching up paint, replacing the carpet, and deep cleaning.

The bedroom is right off of the living room, and also has it's own full bathroom. The closet is about 10" wide, with two little nooks of hidden closet space tucked in the corners.

Shoe shelves in a closet nook
The bedroom is approximately 12"x13" in size, for over 150 square feet of space, not including the closet!

A lot of the other rooms are just about ready as well. They mostly just need a few things like touching up paint, fixing trim, and a little more decluttering. The biggest project left is actually the counters in the kitchen which we hope to be doing this weekend!

What is your favorite color for bedroom walls? We're planning on doing this color again in the new house as well :)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

House #4

Yesterday we went and looked at another house!

It was one that we've been looking at online for months now. We loved the interior, liked the exterior, but hated the location. Open houses came and went, and we didn't go. We were afraid to fall in love with the house, but be miserable with the yard and street. So we didn't go.

A couple weeks ago I was praying about the house search, praying things like "Oh God, give me a house with no neighbors....with 4 bedrooms....and a nice office area..." etc. etc. etc. And God, he has a funny sense of humor. I heard him answer " you really want to be praying like I'm a genie in a lamp?"

Yeah, not really, God.

So I changed up my prayer, praying that God would show us a house where HE wanted us to be, a place where we can have a welcoming home for school kids and neighbors, a place of peace in the neighborhood.

And then the house with the less than desirable location popped into my head.

And I said no to God.

Fast forward to that Saturday, a few days after God showed me that house and had been showing me that house all week long. Pete comes home from teacher meetings where a coworker of his (and dear friend of the family) and he had been talking about the house hunting process. And she mentioned we should go look at this house, so kids could come over after school. It was basically everything I had been praying and just confirming that we should go look at that house.

We debated about scheduling something, but were still hesitant.

On Sunday, we mentioned it to a couple of people, and they were also confirming that we should go look at it. But we were still hesitant.

We go home, I get online, and boom. The house dropped in price by $7,000. Um, okay, I guess we need to go look at the house! So I texted our realtor trying to set something up for Friday afternoon, and on Monday she let me know that we had an appointment for Friday at 2.

All week I felt off. I was really excited about going to look at the house, but very apprehensive as well. What if we loved the house but the road was too busy? What if it was quiet in the house, but really noisy outside? What if everything was absolutely wonderful and we decided we loved it? Our house isn't finished getting ready yet! That would be so stressful! The week was a whirlwind of emotions, and I felt like I needed a Bible verse to cling to in order to help me get through the rest of the week and then the house visit. I chose this one:

It really helped me focus on what is really important for the house (a peaceful place for my family and friends, a secure structure, and a place of quiet and rest), and then I knew I'd be able to let God handle the rest.

Finally Friday came. The kids had a half day, so Pete took a half day as well. Everyone came home, we packed the kids up, and then drove them to Pete's parent's for their monthly sleep over. And then, it was house time.

When we arrived, our realtor, Deb, and the seller's realtor, Alan, were both there already. Pete and I checked out the back yard quick, and the realtors came out to meet us. We got a tour of the house, and the house was bigger in areas than we originally thought they were. For an older house, there was a lot more storage than we expected, as well as updates. We loved the hardwood floors throughout the house, and it was much quieter inside than we expected.

Recessed lighting! We loved it!

We went out and fully toured the backyard as well, which is below the house and front yard. It felt really private and wasn't as noisy as we expected, either. The house backs up to a wooded area, and apparently who owns the land there has trails cut through for people to walk or ride four wheelers through, which was a really nice addition.

Looking from backyard up to house and garage

Fire pit area with another walk down spot

We spent about 40 minutes at the house, which was a lot longer than I had anticipated us being there. We knew we'd have a lot to discuss, so when we left, we got right to it.

The Pros:
- Hardwood/laminate/tile floors throughout. No carpeting to rip up or deal with allergens because of it! Woo hoo!

- Private and quiet back yard. It was so much bigger and quieter than we had imagined. There was room for the kid's swing set, a garden, fire pit, and pool with deck!

- A lot of storage space. Even though we've downsized a lot, we have a lot of stuff. I think all of our things would have fit in the house!

Loved this built in at the bottom of the stairs!

One of the bedroom closets

- Four bedrooms. The boys really want to have their own separate rooms, so this is something we are looking for. They do know and understand it may not happen, but we're hopeful we can make it work for them to not have to share.

One of the upstairs bedrooms

- Two full bathrooms. We've really noticed lately how much we really need to have two showers! It works out really well to have this option.

- Big kitchen with lots of counters and cupboards. We love to cook and bake, and this would have had just as many (if not more) cupboards as our current kitchen! These pictures don't show the wall of cupboards and counters with the sink, stove, and dish washer, but they're there!

- Garage! It was only a one car detached garage, but it's better than nothing. There was also room to make it a two car garage down the road if we wanted.

- Quiet. It was surprisingly quiet in the house. We hardly heard the traffic, even when we were really listening for it. Now, we didn't open the windows at all, which would have made it louder, but we deal with tractor trailers and tractors on our road now, so we're used to some big noise already.

- Easy commute for Pete/pick up for kids. The house is across the street from the school, part of the reason why we were hesitant about the location. But while we were there, we were loving the location!

- Bay windows. I have always loved bay windows, and it had TWO of them!!!!

- Bonus room. Off of the living room was a bonus room through a set of beautiful french doors. It also had a huge closet in there. Having a space for the kids to hang out with friends, use their foosball table, and just have a place to play is really important to us.

The Cons:

- The layout. We knew going into the house that three of the bedrooms were upstairs, the master bedroom was downstairs, and both bathrooms were downstairs. We thought that it wouldn't be a big issue, but at least one of our kids is prone to stomach bugs. They'd have to go down the stairs and either through the whole living room or through the living room, kitchen and laundry room to get to a bathroom. The master bedroom would also have to go down the hall and through the living room to use a bathroom. It's not a complete deal breaker, but a frustrating aspect.

Kitchen looking into washroom.
Bathroom is across from closet by back door.

- One bedroom didn't have a closet. Again, not a deal breaker. We could definitely get a wardrobe for hanging clothes, but having a bed, dresser and wardrobe in the room with baseboard heat, it doesn't leave a lot of space for anything else and layout options are limited. An option would be to use the bonus room as a bedroom as it had a closet and then use the upstairs bedroom as the bonus room. But, we want to be able to check on the kids as needed when they're playing, and having it be out of the way isn't ideal (but workable).

- It might be cramped. We were surprised that even though the rooms felt bigger than we imagined, how cramped we might be. The living room is smaller than what we have now, and the kitchen/dining room is smaller as well. We could see us feeling claustrophobic there as the kids grew up and had friends over, and that would be a major issue.

- Office space. One thing we definitely need is an office space for me. In order for me to get it in this house, the boys would have to share a room. However, the upstairs bedrooms weren't really big enough for them to share. I could have the bonus room, but then the kids wouldn't have the hang out space. There was a partial basement, but it wasn't big enough for office/studio space plus storage space. The basement was also damp (but this has been a very very wet spring), and although a dehumidifier would help greatly, I don't know if I'd be willing to risk having my canvases and products be down there.

- Resale. Now, we're not planning on moving again ever (haha!), but when we do, we want to be able to sell as quickly and easily as possible. This house has already been on the market for six months. A lot of people probably refuse to look at it for the same reasons we wouldn't (busy road, across from school), and that's something just floating around in our heads. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but just something we thought about.

It was such a weird experience. We went in expecting to love the house and hate the yard and location, but came away loving the yard and location but not liking the house. One of the things we went in expecting was for God to either say that yes, this is the house for us, or no, this isn't the house, but be willing to look at houses even if you are unsure about the yard/location. And we really feel like maybe having houses close to us may not be as horrible as we're imagining, or being on a busy road might not be the worst thing ever. We learned that we really need to keep an open mind, something I thought we had learned when buying this house...but I guess we didn't.

At this point, we're saying no to this house. We're going to keep working like crazy on this house to get it ready, and keep looking. We really want to be in the school district, but maybe we need to reconsider looking on the edge of the district. Who knows! Either way, we will continue to keep you all updated!