The HOUSE Project: Finished

October 3, 2014

I did a horrible job following our house building project on the blog. I posted pictures occasionally on Facebook, but I never felt like I had enough to SAY about it to warrant a blog post.

But now…IT’S FINISHED. And we started moving in less than 24 hours after it was officially ours. To say “we couldn’t wait” would be a ridiculous understatement. We’ve been living there for 3 weeks now and somehow it feels both surreal AND like this house has always been ours. Because, really, it HAS always been ours. It doesn’t feel like we moved into someone else’s home because it never did belong to anyone else.

Selling our townhouse and living in temporary housing was not fun at all, but putting that aside, watching our house being built was amazing. We drove by to visit probably 2-3 times a week during the 4 month build time to check on the progress. Anytime a friend or neighbor drove by and then texted us to tell us the drywall truck had arrived or the siding was going up, we squeeeed and loaded the kids into the car to drive by for a visit. (Okay so it may have just been me doing the actual squeeeeeing, but Bill was excited too πŸ˜‰ )


Our empty lot – March 2014

Our house - September 2014

Our house – September 2014

It’s very surreal to remember standing in our house when it was just plywood – no walls, even – and then now standing on the same spot and seeing…a kitchen…a hallway…

Looking into the kitchen - June 2014

Looking into the kitchen – June 2014


Looking into the kitchen – September 2014

Since we’ve moved in, we’ve been working hard at unpacking. It is likely to take forever and ever. “You have time!” everyone says. And we do, but…we’ve been living in chaos for the past 6 months -first in our super sterile house on the market and then in our box-filled apartment. We’ve been waiting and waiting and counting the days and seconds until we could move into our new house and FINALLY unpack and feel at home again.

So that’s what we’re doing. We’re gettingΒ window treatments for our 24 (omggggg) windows. I got a Welcome mat, shelves, storage units, fabric drawers (you can never have too many πŸ˜‰ ), and other such random organizational crap. The UPS guy learned where our house is REAL quick. No doubt we will be BFFs by Christmas (or he’ll hate me, we’ll see).



People keep mentioning painting and decorating to me and yes, I can’t wait to decorate. And yes, despite good advice from a friend to stay away, I’ve been on Pinterest. But really, for now, I am happy to stash any box that says “decor” on it in the basement for the time being and just get things put away first, decorate later. Except for my Fall wreath – gotta have that πŸ™‚

We are slowly learning how to care for a lawn bigger than a postage stamp…assuming of course that we will even have a lawn! Our grass has struggled during the mostly dry September, but it is starting to come up now. While I squeee over mud room benches, Bill can’t wait for the tractor (riding mower) to be delivered.

Finally some green

Finally some green

When it comes to what I love most about the house, there are a lot of things to choose from! The kitchen, of course. I’m so pleased with how it all came out. It’s hard to choose cabinets and counter tops with swatches but I like the choices we made. I really love the space though. In our townhouse, if all 4 of us were sitting at the dinner table, we couldn’t open the refrigerator door – that’s how cramped it was. Granted, we sort of tried to force that kitchen to be an eat-in kitchen when it really wasn’t, but still. Now we have the morning room and it is perfect. I browse online for a new kitchen table and chairs almost daily. That’s definitely at the top of my wish list but we will probably hold off for awhile.

Morning room

Morning room

A new kitchen table is just one thing on a very, very long wish list we have for this house! But in this case “You have time!” really does apply. We have time for projects and organizing, finishing our basement, adding a patio/deck, etc etc etc. But for now, we are happy to just be HOME.

The HOUSE Project

June 6, 2014

In mid-January, Bill texted me a link to a builder’s website. That’s how it all started…

By mid-February, we were meeting with that builder and another.

On March 1st, we signed a contract for our “forever home”.


In mid-March, we hired a realtor.

In mid-April, we put our house on the market. 10 days later, we were under contract with a buyer.

CR8322793 - Exterior (Front)

In mid-May, they broke ground on our new house.


On June 1st, we moved out of our house and into an apartment where we will stay until our new home is ready. Today, we are closing on the town house.

“Whirlwind” doesn’t even cover it. It’s been insane. The whole house selling experience was … well, I will be very happy if we never have to do that again, however, I am glad that it happened so fast.

While we’re excited about our new home and all the much-needed extra space, leaving the town house is bittersweet. We have a lot of memories there.

Bill built this deck.

CR8322793 - Exterior (Rear)

And this basement.

CR8322793 - Basement

He was sitting here in the kitchen when I told him I was pregnant with Leah.

CR8322793 - Kitchen

We built a nursery, and then a bedroom for the kids.

CR8322793 - Bedroom

Caelan took his first steps in the living room.

CR8322793 - Living Room

We brought both of our kids home to this house. We took countless walks around the neighborhood, to the “wing and the loid” (swing and the slide), “around the circle”, “to the big houses”, and we watched for the ice cream truck.

It’s unlikely that Caelan will remember any of this and Leah surely won’t. But Bill and I will always be able to look back fondly on the house where our family was born. Bye bye house.




A (Satur) Day In My Life With An Almost-3-Year-Old and An 8-Month-Old

April 22, 2014

Our days are not too exciting, but I do like comparing this post to my post last year when Caelan was 22 months old and I was pregnant with Leah and then the year before that when Caelan was just 10 months old. I only wish I had posts from the year I was pregnant with Caelan and especially the year before that when we weren’t expecting yet. Our days now revolve so much around the kids that it’s hard to remember what we did on the weekends before they were here! I’m sure it was much quieter in our house back then πŸ™‚

Re-reading this post was exhausting in a weird way. We didn’t do much of anything this day, but every few minutes, somebody wants/needs something. We get to spend lots of time with our kids on the weekends which is great because we DON’T get to see them much during the week. But still, I love when 8:30pm rolls around and we get a couple hours “off” πŸ™‚


I hear Caelan and Leah on their monitors at the same time. Caelan calls for Bill who goes in to get him and takes him to the potty right away. I let Leah talk to herself for a few minutes before I go in to get her.


I get Leah up, changed and dressed, and we go back into our room where Caelan and Bill are watching a show. I plop her down on the bed with them and go to straighten up the bathroom and the kids’ rooms. I don’t normally bother with this on a Saturday morning (or any morning) but our house is on the market, so we have to keep it tidy.


I run downstairs to feed the cats and then join everyone else on the bed in our room, still watching whatever is on Nick Jr.



Leah is getting fussy so I take her down to the kitchen and make her a bottle. She goes from zero to feed-me-now SO fast!



Leah is done with her bottle and I leave her to play in the highchair while I change some laundry around, sift the litter box, and wash her bottle. I make a cup of coffee and Leah and I go into the living room to play.



Leah gets a diaper change and Caelan and Bill come down from upstairs. Caelan gets his usual breakfast/pre-breakfast snack (pouch and breakfast bar) out of the pantry and sits down to eat it. He seems to be in a growth spurt now so he’s been extra hungry. He has some oranges too.



Caelan is finished eating so he comes into the living room where Leah is playing on the floor and I’m folding laundry. Bill feeds the cats and joins us.


I get Caelan some juice and Bill retrieves some toys from the basement. We had to put all the kids’ toys down there while our house is on the market.


It’s time for Leah’s breakfast and she has pureed peaches and some puffs. I eat my own breakfast while Bill supervises a potty break for Caelan. After breakfast, I do the dishes.


After Leah’s breakfast we go back in the living room to play for all of 10 minutes before Caelan says he’s hungry again.


Caelan, Leah and I go back into the kitchen to get Caelan a bowl of cereal while Bill runs out to get his own breakfast.



Leah was practically falling asleep in the highchair while Caelan was eating breakfast, so I figure she’s ready for her morning nap and I take her up to her room to rock her. Suddenly she was wide awake and had no interest in a nap, so I took her back downstairs.


Bill is home. Caelan and Leah play in the living room until Caelan spots a baby book that we’ve hidden (because he wouldn’t stop chewing on it). We tell him he can’t have it, a tantrum ensues, and eventually he gets put in timeout for screaming.


After a potty break and plenty of time to calm down, Bill brings Caelan back downstairs. I put away the kids’ laundry while Bill watches them downstairs.


I make a bottle for Leah and this time, after the bottle, she is ready for a nap. I put her down in her crib.


I put in another load of laundry and go back to hang out with Bill and Caelan in the living room. We don’t have any plans today, and since our house was just listed yesterday, it is still tidy so there aren’t really even any chores to do (besides the never ending laundry) so we are just relaxing.


Caelan has a snack (Cheerios) and I make up a grocery list and a meal plan for this week. Caelan and Bill play.



I start making lunch for Caelan and Leah wakes up from her nap at almost the same time. Bill goes up to get her. Caelan and I eat lunch in the kitchen while Bill plays with Leah.


I give Leah her lunch (more purees and puffs) while Caelan is finishing his. When he’s done, Bill takes him up for a nap.



Leah is done with her lunch so I change her diaper and put her down in the living room to play while I do the dishes (again!). When I’m done, I play with Leah and listen to Caelan chatter away on the monitor.


I fold some more laundry and then put it away. I poke around online looking for some free fonts and images to make a birthday party invitation for a Bumpie. Leah is still happily rolling/crawling around the living room and chewing on whatever she can find.


Caelan has not slept this whole time, so we give up on a nap today and Bill gets him up. He comes down the stairs saying “I took a nap, Mommy!” Um, no you didn’t! Bill and Caelan join us in the living room for more playtime.


I give Leah another bottle and then she and Caelan play.



Bill takes Leah upstairs for another nap and I get a snack for Caelan and then put on a show for him. After a little while, Bill comes down to watch/doze with us.


Leah is up from her nap. Her afternoon nap always seems to be super short. I change her diaper and bring her downstairs where Bill is sleeping and Caelan is still watching a show. He’s lucky – he’s getting to watch a lot more TV today that usual!



Caelan’s show is over and Caelan involves us all in some kind of wrestling game where he climbs on our backs and then dives over our shoulders.


Caelan had been playing with his trains when he couldn’t get 2 of them to connect (the magnet poles were the same). Normally when this happens, he doesn’t miss a beat and just flips one of the trains around so the magnets connect. But today – holy tantrum. He completely loses it and sobs for about 20 minutes.


Finally, Caelan calms down. Leah takes this as her cue to start fussing, so I make her a bottle and then order a pizza for us for dinner. After Leah finishes her bottle, we all go back to playing. (Caelan reversed the magnets on his trains, no problem. Sigh.)


The pizza arrives and we all go eat dinner in the kitchen.


We’re done with dinner and decide we’ll go for a walk since it’s nice out today. Naturally, leaving the house takes forever. I change Leah’s diaper, Bill gets the stroller out of the car, then the ice cream truck drives by and Caelan has to go to the door and watch. Then he needed a potty break, and then FINALLY we all got shoes and hoodies on and went outside.


We take a walk through the neighborhood across the street from ours and visit “the big houses” (single family homes). At the end of our walk we stop to chat with our next door neighbor and Caelan is happy to pet their dog.



After our walk, Caelan sits down with some juice. We normally go up for bedtime at 7:45pm but Caelan says he’s ready for bed so we go up a few minutes early.


Bill takes Caelan to the potty and to brush his teeth and then I get him in his pjs. All of this takes lots of coaxing, threatening, and counting to 3. Finally, Caelan is ready for bed and I read him a story. Normally Bill puts Caelan to bed, but this is a nice change.


Caelan is in bed and Bill has gotten Leah ready for bed while Caelan and I were reading. I make her a bottle and put some sweet potatoes in the microwave so I can start making the sweet potato casserole for Easter after Leah is down.


I give Leah her bottle and put her to bed.


I realize that we have absolutely no butter/margarine in the house (how does that even happen!?) so I can’t make my casserole. I cook the sweet potatoes and whip them up and figure I’ll run to the store for butter tomorrow morning. After those are in the fridge, I start putting together the kids’ Easter baskets and hide some plastic eggs around the living room.



The rest of my evening is more dishes, a shower, and then Bill and I watch the last hour of Man of Steel. We started watching it the other day but apparently I can’t stay awake through a whole movie anymore!


We check on the kids (who both routinely sleep through the night now – woohoo!!) and go to sleep ourselves.


Five Years

October 11, 2013

Today is my last day of maternity leave. Leah is 10 weeks old today and as much as I’d love to be sitting out on my deck drinking coffee in the crisp Fall weather, it’s pouring rain this morning. 10 weeks flew by with alarming speed and I can’t believe we’re almost ready to leave the newborn phase behind us, possibly for the last time.

But this isn’t my reflections post – that’s coming in a couple weeks. Before there was maternity leave, before there was a 10 week old daughter and a 2 year old son, there was this…


Our Wedding Day

Five years ago today, Bill and I got married. There wasn’t a drop of rain that day, in fact, it was absolutely gorgeous weather for our outdoor wedding.


Cloisters Castle Courtyard

Most of you who read my blog know our story, but I’m going to tell it again anyway. Bill and I met on I got extremely lucky and Bill was the one and only person I met from that site and, obviously, it worked out well for me πŸ™‚


Crab Shanty 2006

We dated for a couple years and found that we had a lot in common. We both grew up in the same county and we both graduated from UMBC. We even lived in the same on-campus apartment at UMBC, though we weren’t there at the same time.


Larriland Farm 2007 – Possibly my favorite picture of us ever

We moved in together after about 2 years and got engaged a few months later. Bill took me to a Valentine’s Day dinner on February 15, 2008 at McCormick & Schmidt in Baltimore where he nervously got down on one knee in the middle of the restaurant and asked me to marry him.


Engaged – February 15, 2008

We got married on October 11, 2008 at the Cloisters Castle and then we spent 10 days at a Sandals resort in St. Lucia for our honeymoon.



Five years later and I’m still lucky enough to be married to my best friend and we’re lucky enough to be parents to these guys…


Leah and Caelan

Over the years, we’ve grown into a family. Together we learned how to be spouses and how to be parents and how to be spouses while being parents. Well, “are learning”, I should say, because we have many years ahead of us to keep learning how to be all of those things. We’ve had ups and downs, tears and joys – how cliche, right?! We’re a normal couple with 2 kids (a boy and a girl, no less), 2 cats, and a house that’s too small for us. How boring…except it’s everything I always wanted (except the house -we’ll get on that soon πŸ™‚ ) and I wouldn’t have any of it if I hadn’t fallen in love with this guy. So even though today is rainy and crappy and emotional and hard because it’s my last day at home with Leah…it’s a day to celebrate my marriage and it’s the first day of the next wonderful 5 years with my husband.

Love you meelions honey – Happy 5 Years ❀




July 18, 2013

Friends have mentioned feeling guilty or sad about turning their first-born’s life upside down by adding a new baby to the family. I had a fleeting moment of sadness very early on in my pregnancy when I thought about how our little family of 3 would only exist for 2 short years – just a blip in our lives.

But I don’t even remember being an only child myself. My sister came along when I was 3 (so a year older than Caelan will be when his sister arrives) and honestly, I have no memories of before she was born. My first memory at all is a very blurry one of walking in a hospital corridor when going to visit her when she was born.

I thought once my due date got closer, that I may feel some more sadness or apprehension about this, but at the same time, maybe I wouldn’t. Caelan is such a go-with-the-flow kind of kid, maybe this won’t even phase him too much?? Over the past few months Bill and I have been trying to talk up both being a big brother/big boy and talking up baby sister herself. But Caelan has shown no interest in her. He’ll respond “baby sister” if we ask him who is in Mommy’s belly, but he doesn’t ask follow up questions or ask about her independently.

At first we thought, well maybe he’s just too young to really get it. It IS quite an abstract concept – a baby is IN Mommy? And without any evidence around the house (not much baby gear pulled out yet) it’s probably hard for him to really get it. But after talking to his daycare provider about his behavior there towards the babies and taking a closer look at his responses to our conversations about baby sister, we realized something. It’s not that he doesn’t get it. He does get it (on some level), he just doesn’t like it.

Cue that apprehension I thought I might be able to avoid.

It was easier to think that he was oblivious to it all. But the other day I mentioned that baby sister would be here soon and he could show her all of his toys when she arrived. He asked me with such concern “Baby sister not going to take my elephant??” I assured him that no, baby sister would not take his elephant. (Side note: Caelan has recently developed attachments to several stuffed animals, which is new for him.)

We are doing everything we can think of to try to make sure that Caelan doesn’t feel displaced by his sister, but the truth is that he will be displaced. About 2 weeks ago, we kicked him out of his crib and his own bedroom. I didn’t realize what a bittersweet milestone that would be until the night before when I found myself rocking him and laying him down in the crib for the last time. I’d been so focused on the need to get him settled into the new room before the baby’s arrival that I didn’t really think about the significance of moving him out of his old room.

Luckily, that transition has gone amazingly well. He didn’t give his old room so much as a glance until last weekend when he saw me in there getting it ready for baby sister. I’m kind of at a loss as to how to handle this since I don’t want Caelan to refer to the room as his own anymore, but I’m reluctant to start calling it “the baby’s room” because his move to the new room was SO recent.

The next few months are going to be hard on our grown up baby, but hopefully exciting also. I hope that our efforts to provide a plethora of elephants and other distractions will help ease the transition. Baby sister even bought her big brother a gift to give to him when she gets home. (Shopping online before she’s even born – definitely my kid πŸ™‚ ) I’m not going to be able to escape feeling sad about turning Caelan’s life upside down, but I will focus on what a good big brother he is sure to be once he gets used to having little sister around. Maybe we can play up the “mine” aspect and emphasize that this baby will be Caelan’s. He seems to love when things are mine/no-it’s-mine/no-it’s-Caelan’s πŸ™‚

Caelan’s 2nd Birthday Party

June 5, 2013

Last year for Caelan’s 1st birthday and party, he was sick, he hadn’t napped, and he was generally kind of out of it for most of the day. Despite all of that, the party was great and he did seem to have a good time. This year…things were better πŸ™‚

In the morning, before the party, Caelan had a great time playing with his new water table on the deck – a birthday gift from Mommy and Daddy.

Making a mess!

Making a mess!

Then he went down for a nap leaving the 2 1/2 hours before the party kid-free so we could get everything set up and ready. I was kind of amazed at how well the timing worked out!

This year we did a Sesame Street theme for Caelan’s party. Sesame Street was my original idea for his 1st birthday but I decided to save it until he was older and would enjoy it more and I’m glad I did! I got all the paper products from Party City and months ago, I found these Sesame Street characters (in the freezer section of our grocery store of all places) to decorate with. While Caelan was napping, I also raided his toy box for his plush Sesame Street dolls and used those for decoration too.


Sesame Street figures

For the menu, we did “toddler foods” which, conveniently, are big hits with adults as well. We had meatballs in the crockpot, Chik Fil A nuggets, pigs in blankets, mac and cheese, fruit, veggies, and cheese cubes. I’d never actually made pigs in blankets before, but now I’m trying to think of an excuse to make them again – so yummy!! But all of the food was either purchased, made by someone else, or required little to no prep so it was easy!

Party Table

Party Table

I did make the cupcakes, but those were easy too. I used a box mix for Funfetti and made 3 dozen cupcakes. I used my go-to vanilla buttercream icing and colored it red, blue, green, and yellow to match the cupcake liners and picks that came with the set pictured below. Bill gave me these for Christmas this past year and though Williams Sonoma has since stopped selling them, I was able to get another box on eBay so I had enough for all the cupcakes!


Cupcake Kit from Williams Sonoma

Caelan did MUCH better with the cake this year than last year when he kind of just stared at us all like we were crazy. He was excited to blow out the candle on his cupcake and had been practicing.


Blowing out the candle

Caelan isn’t much of a fan of cake actually! He did eat some, but after only a few bites, he abandoned it and ran back to the fruit tray for his 800th grape. This kid was loving grapes that day!

For the decorations, I got a bunch of balloons for the tables and for out on the deck. Luckily I was able to get these from our grocery store because we don’t have a party store near by. Other than that, I made up a few signs to direct guests to food, drinks, etc. I also put up some pictures from Caelan’s 2nd year. I didn’t take “official” month pictures this year but just chose a favorite picture from each month to display.



For favors, I made decorated sugar cookies. My mom had given me a set of Sesame Street cookie cutters for Christmas (also from Williams Sonoma and also no longer sold) so I thought these would be perfect. I’m going to do a separate post on those since they were such a big project!



The party was a lot of fun and I was happy to be able to have it at our house this year! I wish the weather had been just a tiny bit cooler so that people could have spread out on the deck, but at least the kids had fun out there! And the birthday boy seemed to have a great time all day, so that’s the really important part!


This kid loves balloons!

Project Big Boy Room

February 26, 2013

Now that Caelan is coming up on the big 0-2, we are planning to move him out of his nursery and into his new big boy room. His new room is currently the guest room (aka the green room, aka the black hole). No guest has ever stayed in that room and it is basically just a dumping ground for things that have no other home. So, obviously, before Caelan can move in there, we need to clean that room out.

There’s a lot of junk that I’m hoping we’ll just be able to get rid of, but there are some things that actually live in that room – like our luggage in the closet, a dresser that stores linens (since the brilliant people who designed our house neglected to include a linen closet), and a set of drawers/shelves that hold my craft supplies. But the thing that takes up the most space in that room (other than the full size bed) is my gift wrapping arsenal. I realize that most people don’t have an “arsenal” of wrapping supplies, but I do πŸ™‚ It takes up 4 large plastic bins that cover nearly all of the floor space under that bed. I know it’s not practical to keep such a large collection so I will pare it down to just one box. My problem is that I’m not sure what to DO with the stuff I’ll be getting rid of. Anyone want any wrapping supplies??

The plan is to clean out the room, repaint the walls, buy a twin bed and a dresser, and add some accessories. The goal is to have this room ready to go at some point in May. I know that’s a little vague. We’d like to move Caelan in there around his birthday, but we’d like it to be ready before that so he can have a little time to check it out, play in there, etc. He’s never even set eyes on this room before since we keep the door closed 100% of the time, so we want to ease him into it.

There will be several posts about this room as it evolves, so check back! Here is a preview pic to see where we’re headed πŸ™‚