The Time I Was an Interior Designer – Ryan Homes Milan

Ok, so here comes the fun part…..or the HARD part!  It’s time for us to make design choices and I am STRESSED!  We both have a pretty good idea what we want, but it is still stressful to make final decisions on what to put in our new house.

IMG_1994We met with our designer on July 1 and finalized our flooring, cabinets, granite, and extra design elements.  We were proud of our overall restraint.  It is so easy to go overboard in a place like that.

We went into the meeting thinking we wouldn’t do any upgrading to the carpets in the basement or in the family room.  We figured that with two kids, we would likely be replacing the carpet in the not too distant future anyway. But once we talked with the designer we learned that we needed to upgrade the padding in order to protect the subfloor from slips.  The color choices for the base level carpet were pretty hideous too…..well played Ryan Homes, well played.

We ended up upgrading the padding and carpet upstairs and in the family room to include the protective padding and a stain resistant layer on the entire carpet fiber.  Hopefully this upgrade will keep the carpets reasonably nice for a few years.

Our package already included a tile upgrade for the master and hall bathrooms, so it was easy to make a choice there without the fear of going over budget.  The only other potential cost we ran in to was the kitchen backsplash.  I had my heart set on gray subway tiles, but when I realized they were close to $1,000 I quickly changed my mind.  Our package includes 6×6 ceramic tiles for the backsplash, and that will just have to do for now.

Here are our selections….


We had already finalized our exterior, but while I am going over it all…..

IMG_1970These are the exterior options we selected.  The stone is a grayish-tan with subtle hints of red. I was disappointed the it wasn’t as gray as I had originally wanted, but once I saw it all together, I think we needed the warmer stone to contrast with the gray siding.

The main siding color is Graphite Gray, which (as expected) is a light gray color.  The accent siding is in Silver Mist, which is actually more of a tan color.  The shutters will be a dark gray and the front door will be Navy Blue.

We drove through the neighborhood to see if we could find a house with a similar color scheme but didn’t have much luck.  We were able to find the elements individually, but no house that will just like ours.

Overall we are extremely happy with our choices and are THRILLED to get the building process started.  We have our Pre-Construction meeting on July 13th and we are hoping the building will start soon after.

Next up…..paint colors!


Building Our Dream Home

HOME_blogAfter more than three years of hunting and praying and wishing, we FINALLY did it!!  We bought the home we have been  dreaming of!

I never thought I would be blessed with the luxury of building a new home, but by some stroke of luck, that is exactly what we are doing.

We will be moving to a newly developed, planned community in Warrenton, Virginia. It is conveniently located 15 minutes from the school I teach in, and only a half hour from local family. The neighborhood is beautiful and includes community amenities no nearby communities could compete with. There are four lakes, fitness trails, outdoor pools, and a brand new community center that is currently under construction.

I knew as soon as I learned about the Lakes at Brookside community that it was exactly the kind of neighborhood I wanted to live in.

Once we narrowed down our search to Brookside, we quickly determined that a new construction home was our best option. Most of the homes in the community are less than 5 years old and not many have come on the market. When we did catch a glimpse of one that milancaught our eye, it quickly sold.

So we visited the builders in the area and settled on Ryan Homes for their design’s aesthetic appeal as well as their great reputation. After examining the floor plans, we decided that the Milan was the best match for our needs.


My husband, who is fiercely conservative and never bites off more than he can chew, was a tough sell.  But once I we went through the options that would be included in the house, he agreed that we finally had our dream house within our reach.  Here he is signing the contract.

The floorplans you see here show the options we had included in the build.  We will have a morning room added to the back, a gourmet kitchen with granite and hardwood floors on the entire main level with the exception of the family room. The basement will be finished with a rough in for a bathroom. We will have to build the bathroom ourselves down the road…which with be no big deal when hubby is a contactor.

We were also lucky enough to get a 200 sq. ft. deck and a 2 ft. garage extension, both things that made the hubby VERY happy.

Floor 1Floor 2basementWe are thrilled and can’t wait for the construction to start!!  Our expected delivery is October 2015.

These a pictures of Milan model homes.  While these are not the color selections we have chosen, these images include many of the design features in our package.


I Finally See You, Mom

I Finally See You MomI stumbled on to these beautiful words the other day, and I couldn’t help but think how true they are.  This perfectly sums up my own relationship with my mother.  In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I would share these words with you.

Written by Jessica Dimas from

I called you to come over today because I felt overwhelmed. You didn’t hesitate to say yes, you’d be down as soon as your load of clothes in the wash was finished. And you came with lunch for me and the boys. Just your presence put me at ease and I could breathe again. Why does everything feel so safe when you’re around?

I’m 31 and I still get that feeling to go running to you sometimes. You always know what to say to me to make everything feel better. You’re the only one who hears everything I don’t say and sees everything I try to hide.

I feel like I’m finally here, standing in your shoes. During the hardest of moments, I realize this is what you did for me. Some days I feel like no one hears me. No one sees me. At times, I feel like I give and give, and I’m demanded to give even more. And it goes unnoticed. My husband unintentionally makes me feel like what I do isn’t as important as what he does, because I have nothing to show for it at the end of the day. The house is still messy. The sink is full again. The bathroom floor is covered with water and wet towels, and I can’t even remember myself what I got done in the last 14 hours.

Sometimes I feel like you’re the only one who sees what I do. You’re the only one who understands how much of myself I’m giving, and how much I’m loving.

During the most giving of moments, I have flashbacks of you giving to me. The grapes that I don’t eat so that the boys can have them, because I know how much they love them. I remember there always being grapes for me growing up. I don’t know if you liked them or not, but I assumed you didn’t because you never ate them. Even now, you’ll tell me to go ahead and eat the last of anything I want; you “don’t need to eat it anyway.” I’ve always believed you, until I became a mother. Now I know you’re giving it to me, even if you want it, because you’d rather your child have it.

During the most sacrificing of moments, I realize how much you still sacrifice for me. All day I listen to everyone else’s stories, their exciting news and achievements. I look at Lego castles, big jumps off of steps, and karate kicks in the air. I watch trees climbed and slides scaled the wrong way. I’m asked to watch and listen to what everyone else does, and after everyone is in bed, I have a sliver of time to remember me.

Sometimes I feel like I do the same thing to you. I call you and I can’t get the words out fast enough; all the things I want you to hear about my life. You’re the only one who listens attentively to my every word and feels excited for me like no one else does. Or at least you do a dang good job of making me feel that way. When we hang up the phone, I so often realize I never asked how you were doing.

You’re my safe place. You mother me even when I don’t know it. You make me feel so special, so heard, and I never appreciated it until this time in my life when I come last so often… until I realized how it felt to be on the other side; to be the safe place for someone else.

I used to think I had stopped needing you a long time ago, that I was blazing new paths you never took. And you let me believe that. Yet all the while you’ve been following along on the side, right out of eyesight; always there to help me get back up when I’ve fallen, just like you’ve done since I was a little girl. Thank you doesn’t even come close to expressing how I feel, but I just want you to know I see you now. I see you all day long, in my darkest hours and in my most blissful moments looking into the faces of my children. I see what you sacrificed and how much you loved. I finally see it, Mom.

She will kill me for this, but I have to end this post with some of these amazing pictures that perfectly capture the pure joy and love between my children and their “Noni”. Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mommas… deserve it!


Momma the Christmas Ninja

Christmas Ninja_blog
Let me start off by saying that I HATE Christmas.  Not the true meaning of Christmas, but the
general headache the comes along with the holiday season…..the traffic, the pushy sales people and crowded malls, the over priced trees and decorations, and all the CALORIES!

I also spent several years managing a prominent retail store in one of the busiest malls on the east coast, and let me tell you….THAT will kill your Holiday spirit real quick.

But even with all of my Grinch tendencies, something magical has happened over the last 3 1/2 years.  In that time I have had 2 children, and Christmas has taken on a whole new meaning.

People always told me that having children will make you a child again during the holidays, but it has never been truer than it is this year.  My son is 3 1/2 and this is the first year he has really understood the concept of Christmas and Santa…..and that silly Elf on a Shelf (Cinnamon).

I have been probing him about his Christmas dreams for a couple of weeks now, and he has stuck to his guns about his wish list.  Even after an afternoon strolling the toy aisles in Target, his wish list only includes 3 things….

  1. The Paw Patrol Lookout
  2. Paw Patrol’s Ryder (with his ATV of course)
  3. A “big” Hiro (from Thomas the Train) with a “tender full of coal” (because the small version of the totally obscure character that he already owns isn’t sufficient)

IMG_1002I lucked out with Hiro and felt like a Christmas Ninja!  When we took our lap around Target I just happened to notice 1 lone “big” Hiro hanging in the Thomas and Friends sections.  I snatched it up  and hid it under a pile of clothes in the cart.  He had no idea I had captured the first Christmas treasure.

Paw Patrol has proven to be a bit more challenging.

Before I go any further, I want to stress the fact that it is the middle of November!  It is not even “crazy lady” shopping time and I am already running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

Anyway, the Lookout was no biggy.  It can be found on any Target shelf in America, I’m sure. But Ryder, that damn Adventure Bay super hero!  I couldn’t find him ANYWHERE.  The normally $12 action figure was selling on Amazon for $30+……never gonna happen Amazon.

I should also interject here that I am a bargain shopper to my core.  My mom has ingrained it into me since I was little.  As a matter of fact, our favorite holiday tradition is Black Friday shopping….the crazy 3am kind.  We love the thrill of the hunt 🙂

So moving on…..

After a quick internet search I discovered that my Target had both the Lookout and the Ryder action figure ON SALE and IN STOCK.  SUCCESS!  Well that’s what I thought until I arrived, at 7pm on a Friday night IN MY PAJAMAS.

pawpatrol_successTurns out all the characters have the same UPC code….no Ryder to be found.  I decided to leave the Lookout behind and sulk my way home.  On the way home I called my mom to cry about how my son’s Christmas dreams were a BUST.  In her usually form, she threw on her shoes and jumped in the car (in HER pajamas) to see what her Target had on the shelves.  At first glance she had no better luck than I did.  But never fear, that woman can turn water into wine….I swear.  She cornered some poor defenseless store associate and within minutes the entire staff was hunting for this silly action figure.  And would you even believe me if I told you THEY FOUND IT?!  Noni the Christmas Ninja to the Rescue!

The joy that I felt when I heard this news and thought back on my Hiro success was out of this world.  I’m not sure I have ever really been that happy.  There is this special kind of happiness that take over when you think about the pure, innocent joy that will be spread across you child’s face on Christmas morning when they unwrap EXACTLY what they were dreaming of.  There is an unreal sense of peace in knowing that you have made the magic of Christmas real for your child.

As I reflect on the past week or so of Christmas shopping I realize I have a renewed joy for the holiday.  I am anxious for its arrival again.  And yes, part of my joy stems from the commercialism of a holiday that should be focused around religion and family, but the majority of it comes from a deep desire to make the people I love, mainly my feisty 3 year old, endlessly happy.

I guess I can see why the holiday season has become so commercialized….why Santa sets up shop on the first of November.  Because we are all on the hunt for that magical feeling.  We all want to know that our efforts…tearing through the shelves, wrestling the other crazy moms, and waiting in line for hours, has lead to pure joy on the faces of our innocent children.

So in closing, may your holiday shopping be safe and without incident…but more importantly, fruitful.  God Speed Mommas

A Day at Cox Farms: Fall Festival

Long time no write…I know, I know.  So much is going on in my life, and I am hoping to get a few minutes to get caught up on here in the near future.  I have learned quickly since heading back to work that my life full of love, laughter,….and two kids leaves little room for blogging.  I saw this coming though.

But I had to make time to share our awesome trip to Cox Farm’s Fall Festival.  It is the highlight of our fall now that we have children.  The hayride, the pumpkins, the smiles… all adds up to a priceless afternoon of fun.  We planned our trip around a visit from Noni (my mom) and I was happy to have her here and for the extra set of hands so that I could hold the camera.  I feel so blessed to have these precious memories captured forever.

Cox Farms_fall festive