Monday, April 24, 2017

Choosing Design Features for our Lexar Home

Remember my list of wants/needs for our dream home with Lexar Homes?

Well, after that was taken care of, there were a couple of design features I wanted to add to the plan. These were all inspired by Pinterest, so I'll link to the original posts.

1) Makeup vanity. In our old home, I didn't have a place to sit in the bathroom to do my makeup. Standing for 20 minutes every morning wasn't an option, so I did my makeup on the dining room table or on the kitchen counter. It drove Graham crazy to have my makeup out on the kitchen counter every day.. So, our new home HAD to have a separate space for makeup with a spot to sit.

These were my inspiration:
His and hers bath

Original image from Houzz. This one is way too elaborate for my taste, but I was trying to find a corner makeup vanity that I could sit at..



















Unknown original source (googled "corner makeup vanity"). Our vanity will look very similar to this one.


2) Tile designs behind master bathroom vanity up to the ceiling. Subway tile is affordable, classic, and can have various layouts that make it look stylish and contemporary. I really love geometric patterns, so I want to contrast a geometric tile design with round vanity mirrors above the sinks. These are my inspiration.

Shake it Up: 7 Creative New Ways to Lay Subway Tile | Apartment Therapy:
Original link here

bathroom with lattice tile, gray vanity, crystal knobs, white counters, chrome fixtures, built in storage tower:
Unknown source. My favorite non-subway tile design, but this specific tile is wayyy too expensive for my taste.

3) Stone hearth behind wood burning stove. With a typical fireplace, you can be pretty basic or glamorous with the surround and mantle.. but with wood burning stoves, usually it's pretty simple. Wood burning stoves can be kind of ugly and just serve a function without style. I wanted to make it look more stylish by adding a stone background behind the wood burning stove on the wall up to the ceiling. The home won't be built with a mantle, but I'll have Graham DIY it later. These are my inspiration:

Stone Work & Fireplace/Woodstoves - traditional - Living Room - Other Metro - Cashmere Construction:
Original image from Houzz

Take out boring fireplace and replace it with our wood burning stove:
Original source unknown.

4) Built-in kitchen desk and cookbook shelves. Once we found out that Lexar Homes couldn't do a custom cookbook shelf for me in the kitchen, and we re-worked the dining room layout, we decided to have Graham's brother design a custom kitchen desk and shelf section for us. It won't be built right away, so we'll probably get some cheap IKEA thing in the mean time, but we plan to put it in after the first few years. These are my inspiration:

What a sweet little tile Laura Moss again - desire to inspire - desiretoinspire.net:
Original link here

Office with wallpaper & built ins. Could do something like this in laundry room with stencil.:
Original link here

5) Planked kitchen island. No, this isn't shiplap, nor do I consider it to be the "industrial farmhouse" style that is so hot right now. I'm not a country girl, and my husband is from inner city Portland (before it was gentrified). But, I do love the geometric lines from the planks, and I love that it'll protect the wall from people's feet when they sit at the counter. We plan to DIY this while the house is being built.

Turn your kitchen from boring builder basic to beautiful with a DIY Planked Peninsula with Corbels tutorial at thehappyhousie.com main
Original link here

6) Double barn door between our master bedroom and workout room. Although we plan to have the doors open for most of the time, we wanted a way to separate the rooms for privacy in case we have a lot of family staying at our house (which is definitely in our plans). We plan to DIY these from cheap-o hollow doors from ReStore. These are my inspiration:

Contemporary Barn Door
Original link here

barn-doors-sliding-track
Original link here (Yeah, Graham said NO to anything intricate.. so it's a no-go on anything with a specific design).

Anyways, keep following my blog to see these plans come to life in my house, and to learn more about building your own home!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Renting Sucks

Ok, so now I need to rant about renting. The only good thing about renting is that when there are problems with the house, you can call someone else to fix them without having to pay for them. That's the only good thing. Ugh. Wait, the bedrooms are bigger than our old house. Ok, so those are the only good things. Oh, and there's a gas fireplace. I promise.. that's it.

--The rent for this tiny place is only $100 less than our previous mortgage.
--The bathroom smells musty.
--The living room, dining room, and kitchen floor plan is tiny.
--I can only store 1/4 of my kitchen stuff in the kitchen.
--The oven/stove combo is older than me.
--I don't want to cook because of the awful state of the kitchen.
--The whole place is so small that if literally one thing is on the floor, it feels like the house is a disaster.
--For the love of all that is holy, pine needles are the worst for light-colored home floors. Vacuuming every few days is a must.

Anyways, we are adjusting to life in this temporary house. It is really odd living in place that I don't plan to be in long. We didn't hang up any pictures or wall art except for spots where there were already nails on the walls. The TV is balanced against the wall on top of our media center. 2/3 of my kitchen appliances and supplies are in the garage. The piano is in the garage. My life is on hold because I feel like I can't do all of normal things I do. I cannot wait for our new house to be built, and this renting experience will only make it more sweet when it's done!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Building a Semi-Custom Home with Lexar Homes

I promise, my blog will NOT only be about building our house.. but that's kind of the only thing we're doing right now. We don't get out much.

Before I get to go on about the joys about customizing our desired floor plan, I forgot to mention exactly how I did a feasibility study in my first blog. I said I gathered information, but I had to go through proper channels. Every county will have information about the land and lots within their boundaries. Pierce County has an interactive map that allows you to get the parcel number, tax info, etc. The website was helpful, because it tells you if your lot is within certain areas, such as a landslide risk, wetland boundaries, aquifer recharge area (not quite sure about that one, but it has something to do with groundwater supply), etc. This is important because if your land has wetlands, has a landslide risk, or is in a groundwater supply area, it can increase your cost to build or change the area in which you can build. Also, each assessment can cost upwards of $500+ (landslide risk assessment is like $700-1200). I was researching a lot that had some wetlands at the back of the property, which REALLY limited where you could put a house on the lot because the county required fencing 50-100 feet away from the wetland area. Word to the wise: do this research through your county prior to putting in an offer on the land so you don't get too excited if the lot has too many restrictions on it.

Now that that's done.. Let me tell you about the fun part: customizing our floor plan. Since we decided to build with Lexar of Tacoma, we (and I do mean I) narrowed it down between 3-5 various floor plans we liked. I compared the square footage, the base price of the home, and the pros/cons to every floor plan. We could have every thing we wanted in a floor plan, IF we wanted to spend $500K on a house and have a house over 3000 square feet. Yeah, not in our budget, and we definitely don't need a house that big. Lexar does allow you to customize your floor plan, but you do obviously have to get the changes approved by a structural engineer. So, I decided between 2 plans: the 2573 (to state the obvious, the house name is the square footage) with a slight modification to add a 3rd-car garage and slightly increase the size of the home behind the garage, or the 2057 with a custom plan of eliminating the shop in the garage, adding the 3rd car garage, and expanding the house behind the garage.

This is the 2573 (photos posted from Lexar's profile on Houzz.com):




This is the 2057:




Like I said, both homes required some tweaking, and we ultimately decided on the 2057 plan to fully make it our own. I really like the general layout, the large kitchen (and you can't see dirty dishes in the sink when you open the front door!), the curved hallway to the back, and the covered porch in the backyard. Plus, when we added in the extra square feet, it was slightly less than the base price for the 2573. I also really liked the curb appeal and exterior of the 2057 plan the best.

So, I started doing drawings of what we wanted to modify on the 2057 plan. Mind you, I'm not an architect or even artistic. I simply drew a scaled drawing of the house and what I wanted it to look like. I got rid of the garage shop, added a 3rd car garage, and expanded the entire house behind it. I wanted to add a couple of things: playroom, exercise room, cut-out in the dining room for a desk and cookbook shelves, and a large closet in the playroom. I changed the layout of the master bedroom, master bath, and closet, so I had no idea how to configure the bathroom, the windows, etc.. so the drawing was pretty basic. So, we handed in my sketches and hoped for the best.

Unfortunately, due to my lack of expertise, and a lack of communication on their part, their floor plans and engineering calculations from my shoddy drawings went to engineering and drafting without us approving the final product. So, when we got the plans almost two months later, we were excited, but disappointed that the plans weren't complete from our perspective.

--They forgot the dining room cut-out for my shelves and desk.
--There were no additional windows in the huge master bedroom or one single window in the master bathroom.
--They forgot the man-door out the garage.
--The pantry was small.
--The workout room was ginormous and just as big as the master bedroom.

We also wanted a couple more changes:
--More lights in bigger bedrooms.
--Expand the dining room out to be flush with the master bedroom.
--Add the cut-out in the dining room for a future built-in desk and cookbook shelves.
--Get rid of the wall to the hallway so we can see into the playroom and hallway and open up the space.
--Add sliding door to back porch.

So, this is what the layout ended up looking like (not sharing the original plans from Lexar for potential copyright issues):

As you can see, I even have furniture picked out for my home.  :)

Anyways, our plans are currently in their second round of drafting, and should be approved soon through Engineering. Once those are through, we will contact our septic and site plan designer to get things moving so we can start the permitting process!

Next installment on the blog: picking design features for our home.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Selling our Home

Well, in order for us to finance our new home, our old house had to go. I don't think all housing markets are like the Puget Sound right now, but it is 100% crazy all around Seattle and surrounding areas. We are about 45 driving miles from Seattle (25 miles away "as the crow flies"), and still, it's insane even all the way here. It is totally a seller's market out here.. which is how we were able to get a good chunk of cash to put down on our next home. Within a year of buying our home, it went up over $30K in value. So yeah, we bought at the right time, and now we're selling at the right time.

So, when we decided to prepare to sell our home, we enlisted the help of an agent to figure out things that we needed to do to the house prior to putting it on the market. This involved lots of fun things, such as roof/gutter cleaning, raking up the millions of leaves from our neighbor's trees, fixing up our crappy garden, etc. I did more of the fun stuff, like taking down all of our family pictures, taking down anything personalized that made it look like our family lived there.. making our home a house, I guess. Having nothing personalized on the wall (other than art canvases) makes me feel sad in a way, because it doesn't make the house feel lived in.

So, I staged the home, took everything off the counters, everything out of the nightstands, toys packed up, put some fruit in the glass trifle bowl. I was preparing the home for pictures up until the moment the photographer arrived. I don't know if you all saw the pictures I posted on Facebook from Redfin, but dang.. the photographer did a great job. He made our questionably-colored green painted walls look good, and made my home look very put together.







So, a little over a week later.. we put our house on the market on a Monday afternoon. We were under the impression that it wouldn't be listed until 5 PM, so there was no way we would have a showing on the first night, right?

WRONG. It posted on Redfin around 1 PM, and we had 3 viewings scheduled for the first night already by 3 PM that afternoon. Holy cow.. wasn't expecting that crazy of a response. So, I left work early, and I busted my butt to get home and get the house completely ready for showing (i.e. taking care of the dishes in the sink, makeup on the counter, and un-made beds). I was seriously sweating by the time I was done, which was 5 minutes before the first showing. I guess we totally underestimated our house and the response to a seller's market.

Anyways, long story short.. We had 7 showings (maybe more?) within the first 3-4 days, and two solid offers within the first 4 days.. and we accepted the offer.. which was more than the asking price. The one thing was that they wanted to close on the loan by March 31st.. 3 weeks to the day from accepting the offer. We were not expecting that soon of a closing date, but luckily, we were semi-prepared as a good amount of stuff was put into storage the previous month to prepare the house for selling.

But again, we underestimated the power of a seller's market.. even with rentals. Every good rental listing was being snatched up within days of being posted. So, panicking, we quickly applied to a local townhouse that is $100 less than our mortgage.. More than we wanted to spend, but hey.. we can't be homeless with a kid in school and a baby. We are set to hear back soon.. which is necessary as we need to move out in 12 days. So please, pray for us that we get this place and that we'll have a place to live!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Choosing a Home Builder

Now that we'd decided to seriously consider building a house.. We had to figure out how to make it happen.

The thought of picking out a house plan, hiring a general contractor, and making all of the little decisions regarding building a house was an exciting but daunting prospect. Graham's brother, James, has been involved with multiple home renovations and projects, and gave us some initial advice. From that, I was intimidated by the prospect of being my own general contractor or hiring one. I also found out that it'd be incredibly expensive to go with an all-custom builder. I then decided to investigate "on your lot builders". The idea of these businesses are for land owners to build homes with instant equity by decreasing the amount of overhead for similar suburban tract homes. Most of these builders provide semi-custom home plans with cost in mind. The builders provide the plans, the construction of the home, but allow the buyer to participate in the designing, planning, and building process.

The biggest ones in our area are Hiline Homes, Adair, Reality, Stanbrooke, Lexar, TrueBuilt, and Garrette Custom Homes. I found plans that I liked with most of the builders, but then I looked up reviews of the various builders.. which scared the crap out of me. Lots of bad reviews for many of these builders. Most of them require the buyer to do a lot of the work, like permits, site development, etc.. which seemed like too much work. I've also seen some disgusting bare bones homes from these types of builders, aka homes with brown trim, cheap vinyl floors, low ceilings, and horrible floor plans. I didn't want to build a house I'd be ashamed to show anyone. Many of these builders have been around for a long time, and there was a lot of info out there from previous customers, but two companies didn't have many negative reviews: Garrette Custom Homes and Lexar Homes.

Then, there was the pricing. By far, my favorite was Garrette Custom Homes. They have a great Craftsman style with lots of details, especially the exterior. We even toured some of their homes in person. We found 2 home plans we loved, but the cost of the homes themselves (with no site prep), usually started between $230-299K with no upgrades. The homes were still nice, but no, I don't want a tile kitchen countertop or vinyl floors in all bathrooms. Been there, done that. We toured their homes in person, and we loved them, but we couldn't or didn't want to afford them, having to pay so much for simple upgrades ($15-20K for tile showers, double oven, and tile/glass backsplash alone).

Then, I asked someone at work who was building her home. She said she didn't have a great experience with her office, but that her home turned out well overall. She was building with Lexar Homes through the Silverdale, WA, office. I had only heard of this builder from their mall storefront location. They are a "Build On Your Lot" builder that focuses on energy efficient homes. Because the home we'd be building is in a different county than my co-worker's, we wouldn't be going through the same office. From there on, I focused on Lexar Homes through the Tacoma, WA, office, as our likely builder. The Tacoma prices were better than nearly ANY of the other offices in Washington. Also, the Tacoma standard features were awesome, including laminate floors (for all of you hardwood snobs-- yes, I'm talking to you mom--wood isn't the best option for us in the Pacific Northwest because of all the moisture) in hallways, den, great room, kitchen, and dining room, granite countertops in kitchen and bathrooms, full tile backsplash in kitchen, tile backsplash in bathrooms, heat pump (including AC (!!)-- big deal for us), smart home technology package, fiber cement siding, etc. All of these things would've been expensive upgrades with any other builder!

So, we were trying to get info about land financing prior to putting in an offer on the land, when Graham had a good idea to call Lexar of Tacoma and ask them about their process and financing. We were able to speak to someone incredibly helpful despite the fact that we hadn't even committed to building with them or even  meeting with them yet. He gave us more info about a good lender they work with. It's a small credit union in the Puget Sound area that does lot of construction loans, specifically with Lexar Homes. They also give an interest break for "green homes". So, we applied for a lot loan with the bank, and set up a meeting with Lexar as part of our feasibility study. We had a list of wants/needs/maybes that we could address in our meeting and price them out. I also brought various floor plans that I liked of theirs, but it was all cost-dependent. I used HomeAdvisor's website to estimate everything, including adding a 3-car garage, an upstairs bonus room, metal roof, etc, so I could be prepared to be hit with the bad news that we couldn't afford anything we wanted. On the phone, we were warned that the home prices were going up as of December 2016, so that was another disappointment.

NEEDS:
--3 car garage or shop.
--3 bedrooms plus den/guest bedroom (preferably with master and guest on main floor).
--2+ full bathrooms.
--No brown trim or doors. No NO NONO ONO. (Can you tell I've been traumatized?)
--No laminate countertops in kitchen.
--No vinyl flooring in main areas (kids bathroom and laundry room ok).
--Separate vanity area for makeup in master bathroom (my makeup is literally on my kitchen counter right now).
--Double oven (I don't know if this is a need or a want, but with how much baking I like to do, it's more of a need).

WANTS:
--Quartz countertop.
--Wood burning stove (necessary in the sticks where power goes out frequently).
--Separate play room for kids.
--Stone surround behind wood burning stove.
--Full tile backsplash in master shower and behind master vanity.
--Pantry and large kitchen.
--Laundry room sink

MAYBES(??)
--Metal roof (I wanted this because of all the freaking moss on our roof now--moss doesn't grow as much on metal roofs--Graham wasn't into it).
--Separate room for exercise.

We waited impatiently for our appointment with Lexar of Tacoma. I had a binder of everything I'd been saving about floor plans, the site plan from the engineering company, etc. At the end of November, we met with the sales person/branch manager for almost 3 hours because we hit it off so well. We were pleasantly surprised to see how affordable it was to build with them, as he was able to price everything right away, including the proposed changes to the floor plan and additions to the house. I didn't get my metal roof (an additional $12K--would be nice, but not THAT nice), but the attached exercise room to the master bedroom fit in the plan.

The next best thing about our meeting was that if we signed our contract and put down a deposit before December 1st, we would lock down the lower initial price of the house.. which would save us $30K off the base home price plus interest! We didn't have to start building right away, so we said YES. Crazy! And, there went our savings along with the down payment on the land.. So now, we have to sell our house, which will then give us the down payment we need to get a construction loan to start building the house. This has all been happening so fast! I wasn't ever thinking I'd only buy a home to live in it for 2 years, but.. that's the way it's working out.

Anyways, I plan to keep up this blog during the process of obtaining financing for the construction loan and building the house because I cannot find hardly any info about people who've built with Lexar. I've found experiences with HiLine and Adair, but no Lexar blogs. So, I'll be the first independent reference for anyone out there in cyberspace. (Hello strangers on my blog!)

We are putting our house on the market next week, but I'll be updating this blog occasionally as we go through the next pre-construction phase.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Buying Land and Building a House..

We have been MIA in real life for a couple of reasons:

1) Graham has been working 60+ hours per week
2) Apparently, two kids are more work than one.
3) We've been in the process of buying land to build a house.

Yes, I know.. insane. Let me explain. Several months ago, we started saving money for some house improvements. We were thinking about replacing the siding on our house and installing a portico above the front porch. The work would be estimated between $10-15K, depending on the quality of the siding we chose. I started making plans for this big project, when I noticed that a lot was for sale on Redfin for $59K in a gated neighborhood near our house. It made me think. Hmmm.. why spend this much money on our current house when we wouldn't recoup the cost, and we can afford to build a home in a nicer neighborhood? Our current home doesn't meet all of our needs--my brother cannot stay with us due to the stairs, there is no master bath or big closet, and no extra room for the kids' toys. Building a home with everything we need sounded like a great option compared to big renovations and projects on our current house. This got us started on a roller coaster to actively looking for land and building our home.

I got super excited thinking about the process of building our own home. Growing up in California, I felt like only the super rich people had enough money to build their own house. In fact, I looked up the cost of a lot in my hometown of Folsom, California, and a small lot was $240K.. which obviously doesn't even cover the cost of the house. Yeah, we could never afford to do that in CA. But, here in the sticks, land is much more affordable, and building your own home is more obtainable. I started going on Pinterest again (I've been on a 3-year hiatus), pinning floor plans, design ideas, etc.. I was seriously dreaming about specific floor plans with decks, covered patios, and a daylight basement. I was hooked on the prospect of building my own home, and we hadn't even started yet.

We had some pretty strict guidelines on where we could buy land. Without saying exactly where we live, we live on a sub-peninsula, which is basically a peninsula on a peninsula. It's hard to describe without a map, but we'll just say it's by the Puget Sound. We like our current area because it's more rural, but it's still only 10 minutes away from Costco and Target. We could buy land cheaper if we went out further on the peninsula, but no thanks. As my doctor described that area, it's far enough out that you can hear the banjos playing. Plus, we want to stay in our ward at church, and avoid the sketchy middle school farther out in the sticks. So, the land mass we were considering is fairly small. The first lot we considered was a 1/2 acre sloped lot in a gated neighborhood that also bordered on a small stream. It looked like a great lot for a great price, especially since the septic design was already paid for, the land was already cleared, and a lot of work had been done on the lot, but we had to decline. The house footprint on the lot was only 48 by 34 feet, which is TINY considering you had to have a 3-car garage  and 2400+ sqaure feet for the neighborhood (the minimum for the neighborhood). We would've had to build a 3-story house in order to meet the community guidelines, and that wasn't our idea of a "forever home", so we moved on.

Then, a 3/4 acre lot in a different neighborhood went back on the market (it was previously pending). I got super excited when I found out that the lot already had water and electricity (two big cost items). So, we put in an offer, pending a feasibility study. Since many of you may not have had experience with building a home, let me talk about this.. A feasibility study is a specified time frame in which the buyer can investigate a particular lot to see if it's cost effective to build on that lot. If it's not, the buyer can back out of the deal without penalty prior to closing. A feasibility study includes the following: water, electricity, fire prevention, septic design availability, legal easements on the lot, possible site plans, and building capabilities. I'd already done most of the work for this lot, such as verifying the water and electricity, but we had yet to contact a septic designer to do a soil test (to see if it's amenable to a septic tank) and pick a particular builder.. So, I contacted a surveying/engineering firm to get the soil test done, and I got in touch with several builders (that's a different story altogether--stay tuned). The geologist I spoke with was amazing and super helpful. He looked up the soil info for the lot, the contours of the land, and put together a site plan that included a scale drawing of the house, driveway, storm drains, and septic tank within literally 45 minutes from the time we started talking. It made the process so much less scary to have someone so helpful in the initial process.

Anyways, the only snag we found in the feasibility study was the need for a fire hydrant, which would be $8K(!!!) for the planning and installation. The seller was not willing to budge on the price of the lot despite the fact that the seller owns all of the other lots in the area that would benefit from the hydrant. The other lots close by are not inhabited or currently for sale, so guess who gets to pay for the full hydrant? WE do. Not happy about it. Graham wants to put the hydrant in a place on the street where none of the other lots can benefit from the presence of the fire hydrant. According to county code, even putting in fire sprinklers wouldn't make us immune from having to install the hydrant. Argh. We've considered many alternatives, but it's NOT an option to go without a freaking hydrant. If our lot was over an acre, it wouldn't even be an issue.

Anyways.. financing. This is where buying land or a lot gets complicated. It's not as easy to get a loan for just land/lot, so we had to go to local banks and credit unions. Plus, the interest rates are way higher because of the greater risk to the bank with a land-only loan. I've read practically every article on land loans there is, and we finally found a local credit union through a builder that had our best deal: 20% down, 7.5% interest rate, 20 year term, with a balloon payment at 5 years. Do you know what a balloon payment is? $48,000 due at Year 5.Yikes. That definitely put a strict timeline on us to have our home built within 5 years to avoid paying that giant payment. There were other options, such as 30% down, 20 years, with a lower interest rate, but we didn't have the cash. Another option was 20% down, 8-9% interest rate for 15 years. That monthly payment would've been a little higher than what we wanted due to the shorter term. So yeah, we found the right loan, the right credit union.. and now we just had to wait for the appraisal.

If the appraisal came back as being less than what we wanted to finance it for, we would've had to put more money down, or get the seller to decrease the price. We've never had land appraised before, so it really made us nervous. Plus, the time line was 4-6 weeks out, so it put our closing date out to late January, as opposed to late December. Luckily, the appraisal came back as being $100 more than the selling price, so we were good. Getting the title was another headache, as the communication wasn't great between our lender and the title company. I was completely stressed out a few days prior to closing because the time was passing by so quickly and everything wasn't set yet. However, everything came together at the last moment, and we closed on the land on January 31st.

All in all, it was a stressful experience because it was something completely foreign to me, but it all worked out. But, the stress is just beginning.. We have to sell our house, and move into a temporary place while our new house is being built. I will be blogging along the way, so check my blog if you want to follow along in our process.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

MIA on Facebook

I don't know how many people have actually noticed, but I've taken a step back from my Facebook account. I've actually deactivated my account twice over the past couple of months. It has nothing to do with social media itself, as I've kept my Instagram account. I just have been so SICK of the negativity on the Internet. Yes, politics was a big part of my decision to stop scrolling on Facebook so much. But really, this quote from Stephen King's novel exactly illustrates how I feel about the hatred spewed online and in the world today.

Image may contain: 1 person, text




So, I deleted Facebook on my phone, and I've noticed a huge change in my life. I'm no longer obsessively checking my phone for notifications and updates. I'm spending more quality time with my family. At night, Graham and I talk about us, our lives, and current events. It has been quite the time saver. I still log on occasionally, but only on the computer, or via browser on my phone. It makes it like 100 times more difficult to comment or get involved in people's online arguments. I unfortunately still NEED Facebook for updates about activities and other local things.

Yes, I do miss seeing all of my friends and old acquaintances' accomplishments, family pictures, and big life announcements. I'm no longer wishing people happy birthday, or watching friends' families grow. But, I am watching my own family grow and enriching my marriage. This is not a holier than thou kind of thing. This is just an explanation behind my relative absence. And like I said, I still keep up on Instagram, so if you haven't followed me on there yet, you can do that if you still want to keep in touch.

I keep my Instagram feed full of food, makeup, and family/friends. If you think I'm doing this to keep my head in the sand, don't worry.. I can read the news and keep up with social events just like anyone else. I can just form my own opinion without being subjected to everyone's biases on current events.

In summary, I'm trying to keep my head above water.. but I just wanted to let my real life friends know that I'm sorry if I miss your birthdays, your big life events, your children's accomplishments, and other things you may post about. I'm happy for you, excited for you, and I love seeing you and your kids grow up.. Just understand that I'm taking a long break.. If you ever need to get a hold of me, e-mail me, tag me, or message me on Facebook.

Choosing Design Features for our Lexar Home

Remember my list of wants/needs for our dream home with Lexar Homes? Well, after that was taken care of, there were a couple of design fe...