Monday, February 13, 2017

Made Last Minute With Love

Here's how Valentine's Day preparation went in my house this year. [Not] Shockingly, it was the same general situation the last couple of years also. I'm not sure if it is because I'm a working mama (doubt it - I'm thinking many working mamas and stay at home mamas were doing the same rush this evening) or if it is because work is so busy this time of year for an accountant so I just don't have the energy to think about it when I get home, or if it is just my general procrastinating attitude, but whew. Glad they are done!

Y'all know I am crafty and I like Pinteresty things. There are so many cute ideas on Pinterest that take very little time, so I WANT to do these types of valentines with Charley for her class because she really enjoys crafty things too. I had good intentions of starting early so I wouldn't rush around at the last minute and pinned an easy and cute valentine over two weeks ago.


All I needed to do was find some freeze pops next time I went to the grocery store and print the valentines on card stock. EASY PEASY.

Step one: Buy some freeze pops. 

And that's where the whole plan of getting these done early derailed. 

Between John and I, we visited different grocery stores 2 or 3 times and never did find the darn freeze pops. I've never bought them before so I wasn't really sure where in the store they sell them and wondered if they just didn't have them this time of year. (Though clearly they are missing some sales if that's the case since it was nearly EIGHTY degrees yesterday.) So I kept hoping some would magically appear somewhere somehow.

They didn't.

So today, February 13th, at 10:00 this morning, I figured I'd better figure something out. And ol' Amazon saved the day again. I did check Amazon a couple weeks ago also, but I couldn't find any packages of less than 100 freeze pops. I don't really need 100, and so I didn't order then in hopes of finding a smaller and potentially cheaper pack elsewhere. Obviously that never happened, so today I Amazon Same Day Primed a box of 100 freeze pops to my door. (Of course you need to spend $35 for free same day shipping, so I added on a couple of Shopkins gifts to give to Charley and Laney tomorrow on Valentine's Day.) Done and Done!

That package delivered tonight at 6:40, just in time for us to finish dinner and start on valentines.


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We finished up dinner and got to work. 

Only, I never printed the free printables I found. Whoops. Did I mention we currently don't have a working printer, either? Dang it.

So, I saved the printable to my Google Drive and hopped in the car to drive next door to my parent's house to print them.

Get to their house, run inside, log into my Google Drive, and the stupid ^%%$%%*;^($##@$ website doesn't recognize that computer, so they are going to send a quick text to my phone to verify that it's a legit login. My phone is in the car.

Run back out to car, retrieve phone.

Run back in, enter code, print valentines on card stock paper I remembered to grab from my house and bring.......DANG IT.

Forgot the card stock. Forget it. Regular paper is fine. I'll just add card stock to the back instead.

My mom comes in to see them and as I'm showing her I realize of the 4 valentines per page, the margins are off and it is cutting off the "Happy Valentine's Day!" on the 2 on the bottom. So, only 2 good valentines per page means I need to print 4 more pages. 

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Out of paper. 

"MAMA! DO Y'ALL HAVE ANY MORE PAPER!?"

She shows me where it is. Add more paper. Finished.

Hop back in the car and drive up the driveway.

Gather the scissors and glue stick. Crap. Where is the glue stick? PLEASE tell me we still have a glue stick.

Whew. Found it.

OKAY. Charley is ready to get started. As much as I like the perfection of the ones from the Pinterest link, I would rather Charley do them all herself. So, I just gave instructions. 

I instruct her how to cut them apart.

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She glues them each to a piece of card stock.

2 fit on each page, so then she cut each piece of card stock into two.

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From there, she only had to sign her name. (Her teachers suggested only putting their names on the cards so they are easier to deliver! No problem!)

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She added a heart to each one also, because she's Charley.

And then her part was done! Despite the craziness of not being prepared, once she sat down to do them, that part only took 10 or 15 minutes.

She went to play, and I used an exacto knife to cut slits in the tops and bottoms and slide in a freeze pop on each one.

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So cute, right? I love the imperfect cuts and her sweet heart and the way she writes her name. Awwwww.

AND MAN WAS THAT EASY.

HA.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Extra Tall Bar Stools

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For FOUR WHOLE YEARS I've been on a search for extra tall bar stools for our kitchen area. We didn't realize it while we were building, but the bar in our kitchen is taller than an average bar, making the search for bar stools next to impossible.

Extra tall bar stools are not sold in stores. Not that I frequent brick and mortar stores much anyway, but that did make things more difficult when I couldn't find anything I liked online. The different stool heights they sell in stores are counter height at 23-28" (for bars that are the same height as the regular kitchen counters) and bar height at 29-32" (which is the height of most raised bar areas). But not ours. Oh no. The stools needed for our area needed to be 33-36". 

Since some bar height stools are actually 33", we thought we'd be able to get away with finding one that height. We borrowed one from my mom to test it out, but the height didn't feel right when sitting in it. So, we needed stools on the higher end of that extra tall range, to make things even more difficult. 

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Occasionally I'd find an adjustable bar stool in the industrial style that I liked that said it adjusted up enough that it just barely cleared that extra tall range. I'd buy one, bring it home, and put it together with high hopes. Once adjusted, though, we felt like we were atop a plate balancing act. Plus, those stools don't look right adjusted all the way up, either. There's a reason they are always photographed adjusted all the way down. Back to the store those went.

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A few websites have dedicated Extra Tall Bar Stool sections. Wayfair, Hayneedle, and even Wal-Mart and Target. But most don't. There's not a dedicated section on Amazon to break up the extra-tall from the regular heights. And since the keyword can vary (tall, extra tall, 34" stool, 36" stool, etc), it wasn't easy to shop for them on there either. On top of all that - did you click on any of those websites I linked? The selection for bar stools of this height SUCKS. I know I'm picky, but I should be able to find something I remotely liked. I want something with a back, I'd prefer industrial style (but I'd be willing to compromise on that) and something of the right height that wasn't ugly.


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Apparently not being ugly was too much to ask. Bleh. Oh, and each of those pictured above were priced at $300 or more. That blue one being almost $800. Like, even if I started to think I could live with something a little bit ugly, I couldn't even make myself add it to my cart at those prices. It was hopeless.

One day however, I must have found something that I liked, was a good price, and was the right height. It was too good to be true!

Truly, it was too good to be true. It was out of stock with no estimate on when it would return to stock. I found an option on the site to notify me if it ever came back in stock. It must have taken quite some time, because when I got the email to tell me it was back in stock I had absolutely zero recollection of the bar stool at all. But! I clicked through the email and good news! I still liked it! It was still a good price! It was back in stock! SOLD! SOLD! SOLD!

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It said it would take a few weeks for shipping. Not the worst news ever, but when you are used to 2-day or 1-day or same day shipping, 3 weeks is a long time. So I was even more surprised when they showed up in just 6 days! Yay! I couldn't wait to put them together that night! Don't you just love happy endings?!

Yeah, so, that's not the end. Womp womp. The dimensions on the site were wrong. Instead of listing SEAT height, it had the TOTAL height of the stool, including the back of it, in the field labeled seat height. Making it just a bar height stool after all. Wahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I contacted Wayfair (I love sites with a chat option for those of us who hate the phone!) and they agreed that the information on the site was incorrect and refunded my full purchase price. (They also said, "I have gone ahead and issued a full refund for those stools. You will see that post to the original form of payment in 3 to 5 business days. You will also receive a confirmation email with further details shortly. Please hold onto the item(s) and the original packaging for two weeks in case we need to retrieve the merchandise. If not contacted within that time period, feel free to dispose of or donate the item." Crazy right!?) The customer service aspect was great, thankfully, but now I'm back to being bar stool-less.

I've googled and googled and scrolled and scrolled. I'm not seeing any changes in what is being offered so I'm hoping I'm just not looking in the right places. Have any other sites I should check? Or, even better, have an extra tall bar yourself and a specific stool recommendation? I'm ready to make a purchase and cannot find anyone to throw my money at. Help!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Laney Lately

Laney's 24 pounds and 33 inches contain a ton of personality at almost 21 months old. Here's a snapshot of how she is right now.

(Also, before I write these I like to go back and see what Charley was doing at the same age and wow - so many similarities that I hadn't even realized at this age!)


In Laney language...


  • ruff (as in the sound a dog makes) and fish sound the same
  • Dada and bunny almost sound the same too. (Bunny is pronounced "duhduh" while Dada is, obviously, "dahdah")
  • "Thank you" is simply the sounds you would make if you were saying thank you with a mouth full of water. Phonetically, I'd say 'unkh uhnn' with the same intonation we use to say thank you.
  • Saying please is my very favorite word of hers right now. She leaves out the "L", and adds a little -sh action to the end. There's a video of this cuteness on Instagram (@laceyloo22).
  • She's got some other words, but most of our "conversations" these days are derived from catching those few words and using context clues for the rest. 
  • Her animal sounds, though, are pretty amazing. She's got a super realistic horse and cow and cat.
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Favorite things...


  • animals: ducks, cats, chicken and fish
  • foods: rice, tomatoes, french fries, green beans and even brussel sprouts. (leaving out treats, because, duh.)
  • toys: Little People, dollhouses or anything of the sort, baby dolls, & bags of any sort...loves to pack a bag of stuff and throw it over her shoulder and say bye! Also, whatever Charley is playing with.
  • books: Just like Charley loved at this age, the Matthew Van Fleet books are her favorites. She got this set for Christmas and we read at least one of those books a day. Also loves this one (Toes, Ears and Nose) and any of the First Words type of books.
  • clothing: jackets and boots, and really, any shoes at all.

Laney being Laney....


Laney is definitely more challenging than Charley ever was. She's got a lot of spunk and opinions in that tiny body which can make things rather difficult at times.

  • Lately at meal times, Laney will NOT use her high chair or booster seat. She wants to sit on the bench at the table just like Charley. Only, she's too short, so she sits on her knees which can be slippery and she has fallen off once. She likes to get up and down a million times, and the only thing that seems to help is if we are all sitting at the table while she eats. Obviously, this cannot always be the case for all 3 of us to sit with her anytime she eats, so mealtimes have been a battle I have not figured out how to win yet. She also dictates which seat I need to sit in to accompany her meals. My goodness this child, y'all.
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  • She whines most days all the way home, UNLESS she has a snack. When my dad picks them up he stops and gets them chicken nuggets before he gets there. And then! THEN! Once the snack has made her thirsty she whines for "WAWA PEASE!" the rest of the way home. She does not care that you do not have any water for her in the vehicle. This actually wouldn't be that hard to curb if I'd just remember to bring snacks and water every time she's in the car...
  • On the flip side, Laney loves loves loves sleep. Which, as many parents would agree, basically cancels out anything and everything negative I could say about her temperament. But is usually very happy to take a nap or go to sleep, and often giggles when I lay her in the crib and cover her up. She often sleeps in until almost NINE on the weekends. Love this child!
  • We got some wintry stuff a couple weekends ago - a typical NC mix of maybe a tiny bit of snow on top of freezing rain and then sleet. But, since that could be it as far as white stuff on the ground goes for the rest of our winter, we have to go outside and try to play in it anyway. Laney was not a fan. Cried if I put her down. But wanted to stay outside to see what Charley was doing. So I had to hold her the whole time which my back paid for the next day. She doesn't weigh that much, but add a bunch of layers on both of us and she didn't quite fit on my hip as nicely. 
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  • Tantrums. Aren't these supposed to wait until she's at least 2?
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  • When I'm not home, John says Laney doesn't do most of these things, though. She will use her high chair, no tantrums, no constant whining for Mama or for this or that. What does that mean?! Is it just the old saying that children are the worst for their mothers, or does she think she gets away with more from me? 

Other Laney tidbits...

  • Laney can drink from an open cup and use a fork and spoon pretty well without too much of a mess.
  • We've gotten the toddler puzzles out a few times, but she wasn't quite getting them yet. Then, over the weekend I got them back out and she did them all in minutes! So weird how things just click all of a sudden.
  • She's FINALLY getting her last two teeth. The two teeth on either side of her front bottom teeth (lateral incisors) are finally coming in. She has all of her other teeth minus her 2 year molars already, so at her last pediatrician appointment we talked about how she may never get those two teeth since they are pretty late. I'm glad to see them come in, finally!
  • She's shown some interest in using the potty, so I did drag out the ol' potty chair. I'm not quite ready to tackle that, but I'll try somewhat soon. The method we used with Charley that worked so amazingly well suggests 22 months as the ideal age which is just a little over a month away, but we waited until 26ish months with Charley so I may wait a bit longer.
  • Like most other younger siblings, Laney observes and copies everything Charley does. Charley sometimes has to go to her room and shut her door to get some space from her pestering baby sister.

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Here, Laney went to the bathroom and carried this step stool all the way into the kitchen to mimic exactly what Charley was doing.
  • Laney loves a show on Netflix called Hi-5. It is a British singing/dancing show for children. There's another show on Netflix called Mother Goose Club that she is starting to really like too (thank goodness because I'm about Hi-5ed out) and even more recently Sesame Street has been a winner.
  • As I mentioned on the DITL post, Laney got her first real haircut a couple weeks ago. I didn't really give enough direction before the stylist got started (I'm bad about that - glad my regular stylist knows my normal) and I only really said I wanted to even it up. We'd been fighting  mullet status for a while so I just decided I was ready. 
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So, she cut off more than I was thinking. I did insist she not touch the bangs because I hate keeping up with those, but in between trying to just keep Laney from crying and from sticking her hands in between the scissor's blades, I just sort of didn't pay much attention to the length. When she was done - although super cute - it took a while for me (and everyone!) to get used to it. But now. Oh my goodness. Looking back at those pictures above - I'm wondering what took me so long! It's ADORABLE and so perfect for her. 

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  • She's currently wearing either 18 month or 24 month or 2T clothing. (That's a 24 month Carter's jacket with the sleeves rolled up above. But, the best fitting jeans she owns are 2T from Old Navy.) The sizes are so wonky brand to brand. She's in a size 5 shoe and has been for some time. 
  • Laney loves to be outside just like the rest of her family. Due to some extra warm weather this weekend, she was even allowed to play with water in the outdoor kitchen my mom has set up for them. She was filthy dirty and loving it. Those aren't shadows on her face - that's just dirt.

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There's so much I could say about my sweet Bug. She's so little and so big. I signed her up for Fall 2017 preschool this week which is SUCH a big girl thing. But when I wrap her up in the infant bath towels, she's still such a little thing. 

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Love you & all your spunk, Laney Bug!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Basement

As you may have noticed - especially if you are a Facebook or Instagram friend - we are getting a ton of use out of our now (mostly) finished basement. There are still two rooms that are basically untouched, but we have enough of the basement done that we are getting really good use out of it these days. As a reminder, this is what we started with in 2013.

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In 2014 and 2015, we were really only using the space for storage or when a friend would come over and we'd play a game of ping pong or darts. But, we couldn't use it much during the winter because there wasn't a HVAC unit down there and with concrete floors it got pretty darn cold.

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Last year (2016) we decided to start tackling some of the bigger items to get the basement on its way towards finished and usable. Framing, HVAC, electrical, dry wall, paint and floors. This was taken around July.

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Lately, it has really started coming together. We now use it every single day and hope to be able to finish the last two remaining spaces down there soon also. It's such a nice addition - something we don't NEED, but is SUCH a nice-to-have area to use.

This is how it looks right this second.

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Nevermind the crookedness of this picture. I honestly took it just a few minutes ago and I just uploaded it straight to Flickr. No time for edits.

It. Is. Awesome. I'm having a lot of fun decorating it and putting each area to use. This is how we got from the blank slate in July to where it is now.

From July until October, the flooring was finished and it sat empty for the most part.

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Occasionally we would go downstairs to play some darts or Charley would use it to bounce.

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In early November, we were finally ready to buy one of the bigger things on our wishlist: a pool table. I used to play pool every single night just prior to meeting John. Being a (very) non-athletic person, it was really fun to have finally found something I was good at. So, I have always known that I would eventually own a pool table and it was the reason we left such a large open space in the basement. November 5th we went shopping for a pool table and weren't really successful. But, being the impulsive people that we are, we DID find something else that day.

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We impulsively bought a shuffleboard table and brought it home that day. They had to carry it around back to get it inside.

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We had the perfect spot for it, and although we'd only played it a handful of times at bars here and there, we thought it'd be a fun addition to the basement. We had friends over that same night to play. And of course, I had to arrange and hang these signs immediately that same night, too. (We'd been collecting them for a couple years - from garage sales, Christmas presents, etc.)


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The very next day, John found a great deal on a pool table on Craigslist and went to pick it up that same day.

A couple weeks later John and I took a day off of work to go shopping for more basement things. We were mainly looking for cabinetry for a dry bar, granite for the dry bar, a beer fridge, and a new couch for the upstairs living room so that we could move what we had to the basement.

Our first stop was the Habitat For Humanity ReStore. One of the local ReStores has a great selection of cabinetry so we were simply hoping to find a couple of lower cabinets that we could paint white. The plan was to have a couple lower cabinets surrounding a beer fridge and then open shelving above. I knew I wanted this wall to be somewhat of an accent wall, but I wasn't totally sure exactly what the accent would be yet. The ReStore was so good to us this day though. We found two lower BRAND NEW, WHITE cabinets (no painting - hooray!), with the protective plastic still on them, for $30 each. They were the perfect width, too. And then, while browsing around the store, I found a huge stack of different laminate wood flooring boxes. There was a darker wood that I really liked, and I decided that would be our accent. I thought the darker color would look nice with our light grey walls and the white cabinetry. We bought one box of flooring and our two cabinets - done!

We were also successful in furniture shopping and found a new couch we liked for upstairs, as well as a pub-height table with attached stools for the basement. The table wasn't on our shopping list because up until then we were planning on building a table. But, we really liked it, so, SOLD!

When we went shopping for the beer fridge, however, we weren't as successful. The ones we had been eyeing (and that were in our budget) weren't going to work in our space because they vented in the back, and ours would be placed up against a wall. The ones that vented out of the front were at least three times the price so we scrapped that for a couple days while we thought it over.

We also found a remnant piece of granite to use for our countertop and ordered that this day too. It was a mostly successful shopping day.

A couple days later, John found an appliance consignment shop that had a few of those beer fridges in stock. They were scratch and dent, but the one we liked was mainly scratched and dented on the top which wouldn't be visible and was priced in our budget. Sold!

In early December, the pieces for the dry bar started coming together.

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I LOVE that flooring that we used as a backsplash/accent wall. John just glued it right onto the wall. Easy peasy.

Oh! And, when we chose our granite remnant, the remnant was wider than we needed for the countertop. I tried to think of another use for that little sliver that remained when it finally dawned on me. I asked them to also cut a 7" wide piece for us to mount as a drink ledge. After that was up, I decided to use the remaining laminate flooring from that one box we bought underneath the ledge to help tie that area all together.


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We also took a trip to IKEA one weekend because they had the color curtains I wanted to use. While at IKEA, John took notice of this cabinetry unit that was exactly what we had in mind for eventual basement built-ins. Only, we were still going to have to buy the doors because I wanted glass doors. Once we started adding up the cost of just buying the doors, the price of buying the entire unit didn't seem so bad considering the time savings as well.


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The only thing I didn't like about it was the lower middle section. But, we checked the website and found another taller piece that could be used instead. While in the store John googled the exact dimensions of our TV to make sure it would fit with the higher middle cabinetry. What do you know - it fit! Almost perfectly! We took all of that home that day. Go in for curtains, come home with an entire wall unit of cabinetry.

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Once that was put together, I got to decorate it all. Decorating shelving is definitely one of my top 10 favorite hobbies.

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I purchased some baskets today that will fill those cabinets in the middle. Those will be used to hide more toys we'll bring down from upstairs. All games and puzzles are now stored in the bottoms of the two end cabinets and that has freed up space in both Charley and Laney's closets.

That's where we're at right now. Here's how it looks right now again...

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...and looking the other way.

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That's the majority of the basement. The other areas of the basement are: a gym, a storage room, a guest room with a craft area, a bathroom, and there's one other area that we had considered unusable. It was sort of a wider hallway that we use to access the gym. Due to support walls, we didn't have a lot of say-so with the wall placement so the space really never had a plan. Until, of course, I came up with something to use it for a couple weeks before Christmas: a dress up room for Charley and Laney!

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It ended up being pretty easy to pull off though, and Charley especially is thrilled with the area. I'll admit that the only thing I had to purchase were the hooks for the dress up clothing and that picture hung on the wall. Me = hoarder. That dollhouse was another Christmas present, and is on wheels so we just wheel it out to another room when they want to play with it.

The guest bedroom and the bathroom are the two rooms that have not really been touched yet.

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The need for a bathroom downstairs is pretty great, though, so that's next on the priority list.

The gym and the storage room are essentially the same as last time I shared them with you, though the storage room is emptying out a little. 

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I forgot to take a photo of this area tonight, so this one from the last Day in the Life post will have to do.
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There are still several walls that are too bare for my liking so it is, as everything else is in this house, a continuing work-in-progress. But, I'm pretty happy with the progress that's been made. It's one of those things that you never knew you needed until you had it. Especially since basements are not the norm in the south and I've never lived in a house that had one before. We've had family gatherings utilizing it, and hosted a few friends for New Year's Eve in it too. John and I often make our way downstairs after the girls are in bed for the night for a couple games of pool.

Again, I love it. I love that it's not basement-y since it has plenty of windows and light, I love that it isn't (yet) overrun with toys, I love that John and I have a place to play, I love that it all just sort of fell together. I know what you love too - you love the fact that this post is finally over.