Sunday, May 27, 2012

House Hunting Help

Here we are finding ourselves house hunting once again. After looking at lots & lots of houses in a total of 6 cities surrounding the area of Jared's work place. We have it narrowed down to two potential homes. Both homes are beautiful, about the same size & price, although different from one another both fit our personalities, and in the same school district which we are pleased with.

We do have a slight preference for one house over the other (it's more updated and has been cared for a little more yet still has a historic home feel) but the yard is just so small and not the most usable for our purposes (which are garden, playset, space to throw a baseball, and can handle at least 6-7 kids playing in it as we have 5 nieces & nephews who live nearby w/ 6th one on the way).

The other house is also gorgeous and it's on the historic registry of the town as one of the first houses built in the area which I love!  But it has quite a bit more work that needs to be done to it than the other house (but we're not afraid of work) and several impracticalities about it such as an old elevator in the home. An ELEVATOR! Which I think is so cool but it doesn't work, would be expensive or impossible to fix, Jared wants to know why we need/want an elevator to begin with (always bursting my bubble he is) and it eats up much needed closet space. And that's just one impracticality of the house. But the house is sitting on 3/4 of an acre yard that is very nicely landscaped with lots of space for all of our dreams of outdoor living.

So here's the crux...do we go with the house we prefer and sacrifice the yard because you live in your house everyday, year round and not in your yard? ...OR... Do you go with the bigger nicer yard because we are an outdoorsy family and take the definitely acceptable if not more impractical house?

Just a few pics to help you out.

House #1: Gorgeous Home w/ Small Yard


What you see here is pretty much all there is for yard space.
But look at that gorgeous house.

On the other hand it's not much to mow.


Kitchen is fabulous!


House #2: Lovely Historic Home w/ Large Yard
Sorry some of these pics are dark
Brick driveway with ivy covered arches...swoon.
(I've never been one to swoon over movie stars but these two gorgeous historic homes make me weak in the knees)

Backyard

Some of the beautiful & original built-ins 



The elevator

Itty Bitty Bathroom in Orange (the tub is even extra short)

So what would you choose?
 The yard or the house?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Aurora's 3rd Birthday Party

May seems to always be such a busy month!
The weekend before Aurora's birthday party I was in charge of an FSA Adoption Conference (my 7th one to either plan or present at!)
We also had the great blessing of having Momma A come and visit us and speak at the conference too!

But I LOVE birthdays and especially kid's birthdays and most particularly my darling daughter's birthday! :)

So I wanted to do something fun but hopefully relatively easy and something that Aurora would love.
After a lot of thinking and asking Lil A her opinion which is always an experience when working with an almost 3 year old. 
We decided to have a park party with a rainbow theme.

I wanted the invitations to be fun. So I made and mailed these.
Just as you see them. No envelopes or packing or boxes.


Wouldn't this be so fun to get in your mailbox?
I want someone to send us one :)
Source ideas for this invitation here and here

Wasn't it so nice of the playground to be rainbow colored for the birthday party?
 


Because of technical difficulties with the centerpieces
(Jared tells me after I'm light-headed from blowing up all the balloons & my fingers are raw from tying them onto balloon sticks & I've gotten little bits of the green styrofoam all over me from the holders inside the baskets-- that my centerpieces won't stay up right and will blow over. I tried it anyways and he was right, of course. Originally, wanted to do something like this.)  
and time restraints at the picnic shelter due to other reservations on it...
it didn't quite look like what I had envisioned but it was still fun & festive.

Rainbow colored suckers (party favors for the kids to take home) in baskets that were a different color on each table on top of a rainbow striped place mat.


How I ended up using the balloons from the original failed centerpieces... 


Now the "cake" I'm very pleased how it turned out.
Almost all the other rainbow parties I researched all did pretty much the same thing: a rainbow cake with white frosting. Cute but I wanted something a little different.
Rainbow Rice Krispie Treat Cake!
Isn't it just fabulous?! Even if I do say so myself.
Although I wish the #3 candle wasn't leaning in this pic.
Inspiration for this cake was found here.

Aurora loves M&M's so that was part of the spread too.
I did rein myself in on all the treats that could possibly be at a rainbow party. Have you seen all those "sweets" tables at birthday parties on pinterest or blogs?
YIKES!
I know it's their birthday and they do look fabulous but my daughter gets a sugar rush and I get a stomach ache (despite being the reigning Sugar Queen) just looking at those pictures. 

So we offerred a rainbow veggie platter, a rainbow fruit platter and some crackers and cheese to go along with the few sweets.


 For more fun at the playground, we added 2 of Aurora's favorite things: bubbles & balloons!
Balloons on a stick you saw previously.
The kids could play with the big bubble wands there at the park
and as a party favor they each took home a small rainbow bubble container.


Now a pic of the birthday girl!
 Yes, I did even coordinated her outfit to match the party theme. :)
The rainbow butterfly was an applique I bought forever ago...way before Aurora was ever born
and was happy I rediscovered it before the party.

This is Lil A with her cousins, Carrie and Brendan. We are so happy that we can live so close to family here.
But we still missed Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents who weren't able to come to her birthday party this year because of distance.
A Special Thanks to Tiff (my sis-n-law) for reserving the perfect picnic shelter for me!

Being very familiar with children, I knew the kids would find something unexpected and unplanned that would take their interest and be the highlight of the party.
The kids did not disappoint.
When I scouted out the park I noted the playgrounds, the picnic shelter, the bathrooms, the general green space around, parking and other factors. But I didn't consciously notice the sand volleyball court just a little behind and to the right of the picnic shelter.
But the kids sure noticed it.
They spent a good part of the party playing in the world's biggest sand box.
The birthday girl obviously having a good time at her party.




After major hand washing it was time for serious business:
Blowing out the candles on the cake!

video


YUM!



Family Pic!


 Here's Lil A & Daddy cleaning up after the party.  
 Can you see how she's missing one bow...she had that much fun!

Aurora has recently given up taking naps but she still has quiet time everyday in her bed even on her birthday.
But this day she took a much deserved nap.
Yes, she's still in a crib.
Don't "fix" what isn't broken.
One of my many mottoes for life.


Once again we did our traditional children's book drive for a local children's shelter
 in lieu of presents.
(Don't worry she still got several presents from many family members...we're not that cruel.)

We do this for several reasons.
1) It's a way to remember that it was a women's & children's shelter that took such good care of Momma A when she had the courage to leave a bad situation and was pregnant with Aurora.

2) Not only to remember but to show gratitude for such places and for Momma A's courage and other women and children like her.

And finally, 
3) We just moved from a 2,500 sq ft. home to a 1,000 sq ft. apartment...We couldn't handle anymore stuff! :)

Thanks to everyone who made Aurora's big day so special!!!

HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAY, AURORA!