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As parents, there is very little that hubby and I want more than to just let our children be who they are. We want to expose them to whatever we can and let them choose what is right for them. I know that it’s not possible to open every single door out there and that there is certainly more than enough bias just from what we value being passed along to them. We aren’t going out of our way to show them things that aren’t true to who we are, for better or worse, but we are letting things be when our kids take interest in what we’re interested in.

I think the best we can do as mom and dad and the most trusted human beings for these two small people today is to lay a foundation with how we live and what we value and if they accept that and want to learn more, great and if they show interest in something more than that, we’ll do what we can there as well.

As an example, I always said from before we even started thinking about having children that I NEVER wanted to have a daughter take ballet classes. I suffered from anorexia for a long time and my sisters-in-law all did ballet at some point and as a result starved themselves. So I related ballet to anorexia and never wanted my child to go through that for something so silly as dance classes. I was never a dancer. I’m very uncoordinated.

Fast-forward a few years and we have ourselves a three year old who LOVES all things girly, all things princessy and all things ballet. I don’t know when or how it even started. She maybe read a book about Angelina Ballerina or something but whatever it was, she was hooked. She owns leotards, she does plies, and she begs to take ballet classes. And we’ll put her in them as soon as we find a class that accepts her age. Because she wants to. I just have to take a deep breath and let be what is.

I actually remember from early on in my first pregnancy, that I was afraid to have a girl. I wanted a boy to watch football with, to play rough with in the yard and to make fun of ballerinas with. I hated the color pink and all things girly. Then reality struck. And I was given the most beautiful gift that is my daughter, who shows me every day how to challenge my beliefs, she shows me that it’s okay for things not be as we expected and just to love and embrace what is. She has shown me to just let it be. She loves pink, ballet, princesses, and everything girly you can imagine.

Now we have our son, he’s 13 months now and we’re starting to see that he is a little guy who will challenge our thoughts and ideas about the world and people also. He’s a sensitive guy. So far, he shows no interest in sports, much to my chagrin.

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Both of our kids, as young as they are, Drew 3 1/2 and Eli 1, have shown a keen interest in the project that is our home remodel. Both of them have found tools and projects beyond interesting. Drew has named herself “Daddy’s big helper” and Eli is right there in the middle of whatever he can be in the middle of.

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As parents, we have both stepped back. We don’t take hammers away, we don’t stop them from climbing the ladder. We just let them be. They are, after all, learning. And they may or may not take from this time in our lives an appreciation for remodeling and home improvement projects, but all we can do today is let them take interest in what they like. We’ll keep letting them be involved and enjoying the moment as it is. There are only so many moments when they’re little. Neither one of us wants to steer who they are or what they become so we’ll keep just sitting back and letting them explore their world, learning new things and finding their way. We’ll keep just letting them be.

A lot of good has come from our decision to buy an as-is fixer upper and do a complete home remodel. I won’t deny that. It has turned into one of the best things for our life in so many ways. We’ve learned to live simply, we’ve learned to appreciate having a home more, and we’ve taught our children some valuable lessons along the way about hard work, determination and the value of having do-it-yourself skills.

Here is a list of some mistakes we were either fortunate enough to avoid or unfortunate enough to have to learnas we went along.

1. Supersizing – to be honest, we have had and still have had thoughts of adding on to our home. It’s about 1800 square feet and we’ve toyed with the idea of adding a 2nd story for another 600 sf. The truth is though that rarely does an addition to a home recoup it’s cost in the short term. For us to decide to add on, we’d also be deciding to stay put for the long haul in this home. We’re not doing that. And when it comes time to sell we want the home to fit with the neighborhood and original style and we want to be able to recoup our remodeling costs.

2. Trying to make a home something it isn’t – in our case, we bought a 1960 ranch. It would’ve been silly to try to make it into a massive victorian. We chose to go spanish style cottage with ours. There are a lot of choices so make sure the style your home is when you buy it lends itself to what you want it to be.

3. Changing the function of rooms – for us, one of the biggest money and time savers was keeping the kitchen the kitchen and the bathrooms the bathrooms.

4. Do It Yourself – we haven’t (knock on wood) had any major mishaps with hubby taking on our remodel himself. He’s managed each project along the way just fine but it can be a huge money and time drain if you don’t know what you’re doing and have to call someone in to tear out your tile job and do it properly.

5. Costly renovations for little return – If you’re remodeling for yourself to make home yours for the rest of your days, it is one thing. If you’re remodeling and will be looking to sell someday, it’s an absolute necessity to know what people will be looking for in a home. Know what the return on a gourmet kitchen is vs. a midrange kitchen remodel. The biggest returns in remodeling come from replacing exterior siding, new windows, and kitchen and bath upgrades.

6. Underbudgeting – This one, I don’t know many people who stay within budget on home building or remodeling but it’s important to have some idea of what you’re looking at and a back up plan better than sinking into debt. Not planning for costs properly can either result in a delayed project, bigger debt, or work that lacks quality to cut costs.

7. Assuming you can live in your remodel while work is being done – you CAN live in your remodel, but if you choose to go that route, know what you’re getting into. Doing dishes in the bathtub while the kitchen is gutted, and eating out for most meals. Be prepared.

8. Not Planning for the Unexpected – You have no idea when you tear open a wall if you’ll find pest problems or moisture issues requiring structural repair. You may discover wiring that needs to be replaced, pipes that need to be rerouted or moisture problems that have rotted away joists or sill plates. Pad your budget and allow yourself a bit of flexibility in your work schedule to accommodate these not-so-nice surprises. We planned for all of the above going into our as-is remodel and we were greeted with all of the above!

9. Going Trendy – it’s always safer to go with classic design when remodeling because it will last and you won’t feel like you have to start over with remodeling in 3 years when what you chose is out of style. Classic colors and styles will appeal to you longer and to prospective home buyers when it’s time to sell.

10. Not doing your homework on your contractor – if you’re using a contractor or contractors for all or part of your project, get recommendations. Go see some of the work they’ve done. Ask previous clients how the contractor handled problems and if the jobs were done in a timely manner. Remodeling is stressful and can be expensive. Don’t add to that stress by not knowing what you are in for with an uncooperative or slow contractor. Get a contract once you’ve chosen your contractor with cost, scope of work and start and end dates!

11. No permit – find out of your projects require a permit and get one if they do. If you have a contractor doing your job, put them in charge of getting the permits to save you time and money.

12. Check insurance – Before your start your project, check your homeowners policy limits. Since policies are often purchased based on existing house value, you may need to make changes to your policy. Also make sure anyone working on your property is carrying Workmen’s Comp Insurance.

13. Unsafe conditions – use tools properly, wear safety goggles, keep your work area relatively clean. Nothing will delay your project longer than a stint in the emergency room for not taking proper precautions while working.

14. Skimping on Materials – know where you should be paying more for quality. From drywall to flooring, to countertops and fixtures. Decide what you want that fits the budget. Put in flooring that will last, not just the cheapest one you can find. If you want high end appliances in your kitchen, you may have to adjust your countertop budget and install laminate instead of solid surface. Make those decisions ahead of time so you can expect what your end result will be.

15. Not having a plan – this was, admittedly, us. We had a vague plan at best when hubby started tearing out walls and floors. Our plan was “remove it and replace it”. That’s about it. It worked out okay in the end but it would’ve saved a bit more of our sanity and patience and time if we’d laid out a step by step plan ahead of time to have an idea of what would happen when. And it could’ve been disastrous if we’d stumbled upon bigger issues during tearouts.

Happy Spring, everyone! In honor of the start of this lovely season, Angela at Cottage Magpie is hosting a little collaboration of posts on green from around the house, just like she did back at Valentine’s Day with the color pink. It was fun then and I found some green around here so I am going to participate again. Her post on Color: Green is so fabulous. I love all of her thrifted finds and the ability she has to make her stuff beautiful and inspiring. So check it out!

Here is my green from around here. First: a post on green would not be complete without sharing my green-ish couch 🙂
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And there’s my thrifted $2 green shelf that I just put up on the beachy wall I shared a couple of weeks ago
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At my entryway, there is a bowl that we use to throw our keys and cell phones and hubby’s wallet in. It was a wedding gift and is bright and cheery
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A couple other random green things around the house are the plant in the corner of my living room
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My cute little lemon tree
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One day this week, my lovely daughter went to do errands with her daddy and they brought me home a pretty pink flower. The little decorating diva that she is, she staged my coffeetable with it and a couple other finds around the house and it was just too cute not to photograph. So here is that as well
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So there is some green from around my home! If you want to participate all you have to do is a post of your own and link to Angela and then tell her your link and she’ll be rounding up all the posts together next week!

Happy spring!

This time in my house though. I wasn’t feeling well for a few days last week. The fact that I couldn’t do much made my house a total dump come Sunday afternoon. Although I was still not feeling totally stellar, I couldn’t take it any longer. I cleaned up, moved around some furniture and decided to spruce up a wall in our dining area.

I bought a green shelf at goodwill a couple weeks ago for $2. We’d been to the beach earlier in the week where I collected seashells to put in a glass bowl from the dollar store. And I had a sea shell themed thingy that I got at a yard sale a few months ago during a final sale day “everything you can fit in this bag for $5”. I had hubby hang the shelf. He was so nice about it. I only had to glare, mumble, grumble and proclaim I’d do it myself before he finally jumped in to protect his beloved walls.

Since we’d been to the beach a few days earlier, I had fresh off my camera a bunch of family pics at the beach and decided that since it was beachy with the seashells theme I should print some of the photos and put them on the wall too. Off I went to CVS to print photos. Their buy 2 get 1 free special on printing 8x10s was over the week before. But some genius there didn’t take the sticker down off the printer. I printed 6 8x10s and some 4x6s and 5x7s and expected to pay about $20 for the who shebang. I got to checkout and was charged $57!!! Well, I made them give me the buy 2 get 1 free since the sticker was right there and all. And then we discovered that not only had I gotten charged for all of them, but I’d been charged $3 more per 8×10 than I should have. We got it all sorted out and I walked away a happy woman with my photos for the price they should’ve been. You know what is sad though? Not so long ago, I’d have just paid the $57 and assumed I was stupid and did something wrong. I was assertive and asked why the heck it costed so much and saved myself a bunch of cash. While it was all going on, my kids only terrorized the store a little bit.

Off we went to Marshalls for photo frames. I only needed a few since we had a handful at home already. Drew proceeded to terrorize Marshalls as well while I chose the frames.

Got home and did some more mumbling and grumbling to get the photos hung after I arranged them so nicely in their respective frames. And now I have a cute little personalized beachy wall in our dining area. So much better than before where we just had one big photograph of El Capitan in Yosemite. I mean, it’s really cool and all but a bit boring. You can see that in the sidebar to the left.

And now here is what I did to spiffy up our dining area. dining.jpg

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Please try your hardest to ignore that there is stuff on my floor that I didn’t pick up before photographing. I am human afterall and have 2 small children who love to fling things around. And the dresser-as-buffet doesn’t have that stuff on it at the moment. I don’t even really bother to spend time arranging and decorating stuff in places the kids can reach because it never lasts. Right now there are a few bowls and golf balls up there. Every buffet needs golf balls!!

The lovely and talented Angela at Cottage Magpie is hosting a little giveaway in honor of valentine’s day this week. What you’re supposed to do is show your pink – in decor or garden style. Well, I like pink. I just don’t do any decorating with it. So I wasn’t sure I’d be able to participate. Now if she’d chosen red – well, that I could’ve gone wild with but I went looking and found some pink.

I did happen upon a cute pink flower (weed?) growing on a palm tree out front so there is that

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Then I found this quilt buried away in a box. Hubby’s grandmother made it when I was pregnant with our first child. It’s very pretty. I just am storing it until the kids are older and less messy and destructive.

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And my living room rug – well, it has some pink in it. This was kinda neat. We did the house with the terracotta floors and that yellow on the walls that I love to go with the furniture. And I had this rug but thought the pink and orange would be horrific together. But the rug has lots of navy and there is navy pattern in the flooring and we have a navy recliner that is ugly but so comfortable and hubby won’t let me get rid of it. Actually we have two but he only gets to use the one – the other is in our storage room. Long way of saying I threw this rug down on the floor thinking it’d look awful but I like it so it’s stayed. Wow, good thing I vacuumed that little section of rug for this picture

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Oh and did I say that I don’t decorate with pink? I lied. I do have a 3 1/2 year old princess afterall…this isn’t exactly what her room currently looks like but I am far too lazy to take a new picture and upload it just so you can see a new dresser that isn’t even pink and no toy bins in there. You get the idea.

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And these are the valentine’s we made today for hubby. Bug made the one on the left all by herself complete with a section cut out of the corner because she likes to use scissors. And I helped Monkey make the one on the right. Aren’t we so arty?

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Happy Valentine’s Day and if you’d like to participate all you have to do is a post on your blog with a link back to Angela and let her know what your link is!