Kinsey Farms Visit

We’ve been going to Kinsey farms for the past few years and last year we took our holiday pictures there.  I love looking back on photos the same time last year to see how much the boys have changed.  Our family has grown so much in a year!

This year, since I’ve taken a photog class and got my new 30mm camera lens, I thought I’d try my hand at some photography, all while enjoying our visit with the animals, and picking out pumpkins.  The boys had a blast and it was a memorable outing with a nice new fall chill in the air to put us in the fall spirit. Since I’m 37 weeks pregnant and prior to knowing the gender, I nick-named the baby “baby pumpkin”.  A Mama bump picture with a pumpkin was definitely in order!

Here are a few of my favorites.

Showering Sienna with Love

I have some of the most amazing friends and family! Through the years, God has really blessed me by sending the most thoughtful and caring people to touch my heart!  Just over the last few years I’ve met some new Moms, and they have truly been a blessing to me, and I’m so thankful for them.  Sarah and Kim graciously offered to throw me an amazing shower.  They pulled out all the stops, and paid attention to perfecting every detail.  Everything from the napkins and plates, to the bunting banner, hand crafted food signs and take-home gifts…they were all amazingly done and perfected with love.  Not only did they put tons of time into making every detail perfect, they executed the shower seamlessly by letting everyone know what to do, and what was to be expected next, etc. Fantastic hostesses!  As if all that weren’t enough, a handful of other friends brought yummy treats to share, and made sure to keep within the beautiful theme that Sarah and Kim created which was inspired by Sienna’s nursery.  See! I do have amazing friends! Furthermore, Sarah decided to use her awesome photog skillz to document every beautiful aspect of the event!

Even though only about have of the invitees were able to attend, nothing skipped a beat, and the smaller more intimate group made for great party.  I also got to hear from each one of them about why they think I would be a good Mom to a daughter, and/or advice for raising a girl.  The heartfelt sweet responses had a lot of meaning, and meant so much to me.  It truly made me feel super special! This baby girl is so loved by so many already!

On the path to New Home Ownership!

Last week Dan and I decided on our dream home, and put down earnest money to start the building process!  We found this amazing home community called Copper Creek.  It’s in South Forsyth county, in Cumming, Ga and in one of the very top school districts in all of Georgia.  It’s only two miles from GA 400, which is important to us since Dan has to commute each week to the airport, and who knows where I’ll work many years down the road once the kiddos are in school.  We wanted to be near a major interstate that can take us down to Alpharetta and Atlanta fairly quickly without too many back roads.  We also wanted to be close to restaurants, grocery stores, parks, libraries, hospital and good shopping without too much travel, and this place has it all.  Not to mention, the community is top notch with a gated entrance, olympic size swimming pool, lit tennis courts with viewing pavilion, etc.  AND it has sidewalks!  Living in a community for seven years without sidewalks REALLY sucks.  We do have a two mile loop with sidewalks, but there are just too many little turns in this subdivision, and with little kiddos and impatient drivers, it’s been a bit of a pain.

We also really craved a yard, something that is certainly lacking in this townhome where we only have public area surrounding us.  We got a basement lot with a slight slope that has about 20ft of grass in the front and 15 ft of grass in the back before it slopes into 30-35ft of woods (that we own) and then it’s nothing but forest that goes beyond that.  It is so hard to find homes with land! Especially new  homes, where most of them you can reach out and touch your neighbor. That’s great for low yard maintenance, but with the kiddos, I want somewhere they can run around.  It’ll also be nice for our dog who has been cooped up inside or leash walked for the six years we’ve had her. Also, it’s about two houses outside of a cul-de-sac! So, not too much thru-traffic, which will be great when the kids get older and start riding bikes.

Another priority is an office for Dan.  He currently uses our formal dining room that is open to the hallway (and our loud screaming, I mean sweetly soft spoken kiddos) isn’t so ideal during conference calls. So it’ll be nice for him to have an office that has doors, as well as a basement with two finished rooms and bathroom for the start of what will eventually be a man cave.  Another perk of this home is the loft area, which will be a “free for all” space for the kids to have a playroom, which will evolve into desks and study area when they’re older and in school. Also a place where I can sew, do arts and crafts, and any other activities with the kids.  I love that its in its own space instead of in the corner of our Master bedroom like it currently is.  It’s fine for now to have toys in our master bedroom, but it’ll be so nice to really have a “kid free” adult retreat where we don’t have to be woken by a toy that goes off in the toy box, or tripping over missed toys during clean-up on the way to the bathroom.

Here is a glimps at the home that we have decided on.  Some things are a little different than shown.  There is a carriage garage that will be added to the floorplan that will face outward and be home to our bikes, outdoor toys, lawn equipment, tool workshop (eventually)< etc. and the floorplan for the basement shows it entirely finished, but it will actually only be two rooms (media and bedroom) and one bathroom.

Elevation I of Greenville Plan

First Floor (without third car carriage garage shown)

Second Floor

Basement (partially finished to include Media, Bedroom and Bathroom)

We have however, had a few surprises since we put down the earnest money. It’s all been a learning process for us since it’s been seven years since we bought a house, and times have certainly changed since then with the market and banks. Apparently, in GA you can’t use a FHA loan for over $350k and anything over 417k is considered a “jumbo loan” and requires 20% down. Since Dan and I have been focusing on eliminating debt (we’re currently debt free with the exception on some revolving debt on one the credit card and our town home) we don’t have as much savings to do 20% down on a home… more like 5-10%. So, instead of financing a home over 417k like we originally had planned, since they require more money down, we’ll try to pay down the mortgage some in order to keep it below that magic number. This is going to require a lot of frugal discipline, but it is so worth it to us to get into a home with a great neighborhood and good school district. We were looking at other communities, and this is the one where I really felt like God was telling me that we belong, so if it is in God’s plan I know he will make it work for us!
We will also be using Marketplace homes to rent out this town home for a guaranteed rental rate (to possibly adjust slightly year-to-year) over the course of six years or until someone buys it. That will give us time for the market to recover so we can at least get our money out of the home and break even instead of losing money like we would in the current market. We’ve heard several success stories from this company, and we feel very confident about the company as a whole and what they have to offer. It’ll be such a peace of mind to have someone else handle the stress of new tenants especially in the first year where we’ll just be getting into a new home.

We’re excited about this big step, but know it’ll be a long hard six months! Lots of meetings, a new baby on the way, tight budget with no frills of big vacations or trips, prepping, packing, painting, cleaning, but it’ll be well worth the discipline in the end!

Parker Turns 3!

Earlier in the year, we had taken Parker to Chuck-E-Cheeses to see if he would like it, and it was a huge hit!  He loved playing the games, ripping the tickets, putting coins in the machine, and running amok in the tunnels in the toddler area.  So, it was a no-brainer that we would have his birthday party there.  He loved bounce houses, but this place seemed to be something new to him, and it seemed extra special since we tend to go to bounce places fairly often.

In the weeks/months leading up to his birthday, he asked for a Mickey Mouse cake, so I decided I’d try to work in a little theme of Mickey Mouse (which he loves of course) in to the party.

I found this pinterest inspiration for the birthday cake:

and with a cake pan, the cake ended up like this:

It was fun to make the cake this year.  It was my first time for the kids birthdays.  I was a little more confident after the successful attempt with Dan’s birthday cake.  I made a few cupcakes too, but everyone devoured the cake and left the cupcakes.  I guess my cake was too cute to pass up!

Since Parker is getting older, we decided to ask him this year who of his friends that he would like to invite to his birthday.  Between school, church, two play groups, and many of my close friends through the years, it’s been hard for me to decide, but Parker knows who he really enjoys playing with, and it’s typically the kids his age, or those that he’s just around more often.  He had such a blast with all his friends.  It was a great turn out, and Parker really enjoyed having fun with Uncle Spence who came down from Greenville, his cousins, and his best buds climbing through the tunnels, and playing the games.

Parker had so much fun, and it continued when he got to his party table.  It was sweetly decorated with Mickey decor, which had black, red, and white polka-dot balloons, Mickey logo on the party hats, and Mickey on the party bags.  His face lit up with excitement when he saw the Mickey cake, and he loved all the Mickey decor.  With being just a week since our visit to Disney, he certainly still had the Mickey bug, and loved it all.  I think he had the most fun with the Chuck-E-Cheese celebration where they sang to him and he blew out his candles and got the crown and medal.  I know he felt super special, which was my goal.  All of his friends and the crazy atmosphere all made for a super exciting birthday party for him.  He also got to go in the ticket blaster, which was a lot of fun, and he had some time to open presents before we left, and he opened the rest at home.  He loved having his little friends beside him to help him open them. He couldn’t stop talking about how much fun he had the rest of the day!

Parker, 3 years old.

As they say… They grow up too fast!!

A weekend with my big boy!

Over the last month or so, Parker had been asking about going on an airplane.  He’s been on an airplane twice before, but it was when he was three months, and six months old and obviously doesn’t remember it.  So this year for as a combined present for Parker and I, Dan and I decided that I could do a little weekend getaway with just the two of us.  I thought it would be a nice way to bond before baby number three comes along.  We were able to find a cheap hotel, and opted to stay at the Embassy Suites so that we could have a separate living area.  Parker is weird about falling asleep with me in the room.  He only wants to play and doesn’t sleep!

We had a great flight to Orlando.  Parker was super excited to fly and the most entertaining things to him was the seatbelt, window shade, and tray table.  We arrived in the afternoon, and got our rental car and made our way to the hotel.  We took a little snooze, then we headed out to the pool for a while to let Parker play and enjoy the last bit of pool time of the summer.

Afterward, we headed out to dinner and went to downtown Disney.  They had a wonderful restaurant called T-Rex, so we decided we’d check it out.  They had an awesome archeological dig area for the kids to play in while we waited for our names to be called.  It proved  to be too long of a wait for us, though so we ended up eating at the bar.  It was still really nice with a fun aquarium behind the bar, and giant octopus legs coming out of the top. Every so often, the lights would dim, and all the prehistoric creatures would come to life.  It was awesome and definitely kept Parker entertained while we waited for our food.

The next morning we woke up early and headed down for breakfast.  We headed out to Magic Kingdom and got to the parking lot really early and we were able to find a great parking spot. We took the ferry over and waited outside the gate for about fifteen minutes before opening.  They had plenty to keep us entertained with a Mickey show with all of his friends who came chugging along on the train.  I have to say, that opening act brought tears to my eyes.  To see Parker’s face, so happy and excited! It was also my first time at Magic Kingdom, and I just felt so blessed to be spending it with my first born!

I definitely recommend getting there early.  We didn’t have to wait at all when it came to the rides.  We started with the Buzz Lightyear ride, and then went to the tea cups, and Dumbo, and there were either no lines, or just a few people in front of us for one ride cycle.  We walked some, and I let Parker stroll some… We took photos and just took it all in.  We didn’t feel rushed or anything, we just took it easy around the park.  We went ahead and did “A small world” since there wasn’t many people in line, then went to Mickey’s Philharmagic, a short length 3D movie, the Haunted House, and Peter Pan.  Parker was So open to doing anything and everything!  He wasn’t afraid of anything and got so excited for the next ride and always wanted to know what was next.  I would let him choose as much as possible, and he loved having the control.

After a busy morning, we decided to head to lunch.  I had already decided that we should go big since we only had one day at Disney.  The Crystal Palace had dining with the Characters.  In Magic Kingdom, the characters are from the Winnie the Pooh story.  Parker hasn’t seen any of their movies, but we have read several Winne the Pooh books, so he was excited to be dining with them.  It was about a 20 minute wait, but it was worth it because there was a Mickey Mouse show outside that kept us entertained until our buzzer went off, then when we got sat.  It was a buffet and we were able to eat immediately, which is also a bonus.  The smiles on Parker’s faces were priceless too.  He loved every bit of it!

We couldn’t have planned the lunch time any more perfectly because as soon as we stepped out of the restaurant, there was a parade right in front of the castle, steps away!  The first float was none other than Woody himself with Jessie, Parker’s favorite!  It was an afternoon to remember!

It was such a fun parade! Afterward, we headed back to the hotel to get some rest.  By that point it was starting to get a little overcast (light showers were foretasted) and Parker and I were certainly getting a bit tired.  If we were going to make it to the parade and fireworks that evening, a nap was definitely in order!

I was worried after our nap that we wouldn’t be able to get a close parking spot, but we actually got a closer parking spot than before! How awesome was that?  Apparently while we were napping, the rain started, and a lot of people decided to leave, so we got really close to the park, and only needed to take the monorail over.  We went straight for the area that we hadn’t gone to before, and decided to do the Safari boats.  Parker loved seeing the animals, even though they weren’t real.  We went from there to the Tiki Hut to see the birds sing, Pirates of the Carribean ride, and the Aladdin Magic Carpet ride.  On our way back into the park, someone gave us a fast pass to the Peter Pan ride again, so we did that for a second time, and then at dinner with “Pinnochio” in a German looking beer hall that served pizza and soda.  After that, dusk was upon us, and we decided to just make our way to the center of the park near the castle to hang out until it was time for the parade and fireworks.  We met some people there, and Parker enjoyed showing off his Zurg that he got after the buzz lightyear ride, and chatting with the friendly people.  Everyone was so happy to be in the “happiest place on earth”.

Parker was super excited to see the parade and fireworks.  He doesn’t ever get to stay up late since he goes to bed by 8/8:30 each night, so this was a special treat.  He’s also never seen any special firework productions, just the little firework displays of street fireworks that Dan and I have set off for the 4th.  He did great watching the parade as well as the fireworks.  He was pretty content in his stroller during the parade, but then I decided he needed to sit on my shoulder during the firework display.  He loved being up high, and fortunately, I didn’t mind the thirty pounds of extra weight for a little bit.  It was worth it to be able to experience the excitement with him!

On our last day, we decided to head back to Downtown Disney, watched Finding Nemo in 3D at their theater and grabbed lunch at the T-Rex restaurant for the second time (because Parker honestly couldn’t get enough of that place!).  We then walked around before heading back to the airport.

It was an amazing trip, and I’m so thankful that I was able to make some great memories with my sweet Parker.  There were some hiccups on the flight home, but nothing that was out of the ordinary for an overtired toddler, who was missing the comforts of home.  I know it will be something that we will remember for many years to come, and it was such a special bonding time for us both!