Under Construction

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Milk and Cookies Gender Reveal

Last Sunday was our Gender Reveal Party.  After hours of Pinterest and YouTube I convinced J that a Milk and Cookies theme was the way to go.  That was the easy part!  The hard sell was convincing him to wait almost two full weeks after our ultrasound to find out if we were having a boy or a girl!  We had our ultrasound on Tuesday, March 18th and the big reveal wasn't until Sunday, March 30th.  

After watching first time parents reactions on YouTube, I knew it was going to be a priceless moment to share with our close family and friends.  I also knew that J's ability to keep a secret is nil, so I didn't want to risk it leaking before the big party.  So for this reason the sealed envelope was squirreled away the moment we arrived home so there would be no temptation to peak.  The ultrasound pictures were from the waist up and the ultrasound tech was so quick that we couldn't tell either way, though my gut said boy and J was convinced we were having a girl.
According to the Old Wives Tales, we were split 50/50 on the gender as well, and though most of our family members voted boy, most friends went with girl as their guess.  We had each guest wear their vote with felt mustaches for boy and colorful flowers for girl.  A few people insisted on me pulling my dress tight against my belly to make their decision, but most people had a solid idea before they even read the chalkboard.

Unfortunately the only person to get pictures of the Onesie Game was my mom who rolls old school with a digital camera and she hasn't sent me the pics yet, so I'll do my best to describe it.  Each guest brought a gender neutral onesie that described their personality.  These were strung up on a clothesline and labeled alphabetically.  Each guest was then assigned a number and on their quiz sheet they were asked to try to match up each onesie with the guest they thought it best described.  We ended up with an amazing collection of onesies and people surprised us with their creativity!  
After putting J through the stress of hosting back to back events this fall for our Open House then Thanksgiving, I decided to cut us both some slack and have the party at a local bakery.  The owners graciously sectioned off the back part for us and we ordered freshly baked cookies, farm fresh milk from a local dairy farm, and an assortment of coffee flavors from a local supplier.  Since the party was at 2 PM this was a perfect snack and several of our guests even stayed after to join us for an early dinner because the food is too tasty to pass up!

That solid white milk vessel pictured dead center in the galvanized tub held the big news!  When we arrived at the bakery we handed off the sealed envelope to the staff and they secretly filled it with milk.  The instructions were chocolate milk for a boy or strawberry milk for a girl.  The "Do Not Touch" sign was placed on the vessel so the result would not be accidentally/purposely revealed ahead of time.  

After enjoying catching up with guests, casting votes, matching up onesies, and indulging our taste buds, it was time to reveal the results.  J held the clear mason jar up for all our guests to see and I was the one to open the vessel and pour the milk into the jar.  We were both incredibly nervous, and because J is a full 8 inches taller than I am, he gasped when I opened the top and by his reaction I was certain that he had been right about us having a baby girl.  As I tipped the milk into the jar revealing the chocolate milk, my hands started shaking and around the room tears started flowing!  The week my grandpa passed away we told him we were expecting and he was certain it was a boy.  It was such an emotional and priceless moment that sharing it with family and friends is something I would recommend a thousand times over to any expectant parents!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

All Aboard the Crazy Train

So if you read my last post you are pretty well versed in the consistency of my bladder, the daily eruptions occurring on my epidermis, and the overall lethargy that has been my life for the past few months.  Perhaps the biggest lie of pregnancy though is those "little" mood swings you hear about, but are quickly assured are quite temporary and are typically curable with a nice foot rub or a bit of comfort food.  If pregnancy were a card game then I would call bullshit!  Pregnancy is a one way, nonrefundable ticket on the crazy train!

Take for example my latest excruciating trip to the grocery store.  While my mom was thoughtful enough to pick up a food dehydrator for me last weekend so I can stop wasting money on organic dried fruits, I am entirely too lazy to attempt to make my own Larabars.  The food processor gives me a headache and I hate cleaning the sticky goo off the blades that dried fruit inevitably leaves stuck behind. My only alternative then was to do the prego shuffle through the store filled with scents that assaulted my super sonic sense of smell while stripping off layers of clothing because despite the 30 degree temperatures outside I was literally melting under the fluorescent lighting inside.

Twice I had to stop mid aisle and ponder some absurd purchase just to keep my mind off the food that kept insisting on heading north of my stomach.  Swallowing my lunch back down, I cursed the redesign that had moved both entrances to the front of the store which seemed impossibly far away given my state.  When I finally got a handle on things I made it to the macaroni and cheese aisle which inexplicably shares real estate with household items such as Raid and bar soap.  This irritates me beyond measure even when not knocked up, so I try to get what I need and get out without causing a scene.  When I finally passed the carcinogens only to see that my favorite Back to Nature Crazy Bugs Macaroni has not been restocked for the 3rd week in a row I came dangerously close to hyperventilating.  What does a girl have to do to get some gd macaroni around here?!

At this point I am annoyed, sweating bullets, and desperately fighting a losing battle to keep my food from splattering on the waxed floor and causing a chain reaction among the other midday shoppers.  My mission becomes to get my Larabars and get out.  As I round the corner of the cereal aisle I see a young couple grinning ear to ear as they push their newborn around in what is likely his first trip to the store.  The woman gives me a sympathetic look as I pigeon toe it over to the granola section being blocked from view by a young woman and her scaffolding of a car as she restocks the shelves.

Said granola girl sees me and when I say excuse me, she continues working and forces me to squeeze my gargantuan belly between her cart and the shelves.  Once I have myself firmly wedged in place I am disappointed to see that like the macaroni, this area has not been restocked since my last visit.  I turn toward her, which is no easy task, and politely inquire if she will also be restocking any more Larabars. 

Granola girl realizes my precarious situation, as I cannot easily extract myself from my current position, and decides that because she hates her job and apparently all of humanity she will become sarcastic stocker of the shelves and put me in my place.  She asks me if it looks like she is wearing a red shirt and khaki pants and suggests that perhaps I find someone who is if I want to know what will be restocked because she only works for a specific health bar company.  The response that immediately came to mind, or maybe it skipped my mind and went straight to my lips was to ask her if I looked like the kind of pregnant woman who would hesitate to punch someone in the face, but by some miracle or divine intervention my lunch edged once more to the void where my tonsils once existed and I was forced to swallow it along with my biting reply.

While not usually one to write passive aggressive notes on the internet, I do hope that this girl realizes how lucky she was that nature interceded on her behalf because the train I'm on has left the station!  Just ask J, he's known me for almost 11 years now and currently sleeps with one eye open.  Perhaps this inaccurately named morning sickness is nature's way of keeping pregnant women everywhere out of the slammer when our normally logical brain decides to take a mini vacation!  So until this train stops I will self medicate with a giant slushy while I shop on Amazon for my fav mac and cheese and a box of Larabars big enough to sustain me in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Pretty Pregnant Liars

Pregnancy has a funny way of turning you into a liar.  Little lies that mean no harm, white lies as they say.  When you are expecting even complete strangers can't help but smile when they see your rounded belly and ask the holy trinity of questions:

-When are you due?
-What are you having?
-How are you feeling?

My responses; I'm due in August; we find out in a few more weeks; the second trimester has been better than the first.  The first two questions are truthful, but in actuality nobody really wants a straight answer to that last one.  That's because pregnancy is a blessing and as excited and grateful as I am to be carrying another living being inside of me, the truth is how I feel is varying degrees of shitty.

The reality of pregnancy is that there are days when you have only one symptom rear its' ugly head and you consider that a good day.  In the past 17 weeks I've been able to relate to Juno's heartburn radiating in her knee caps, broken a few sound barriers with my new found ability to pass gas from both ends, peed myself on the way to bathroom, broken out like an adolescent boy, and between low blood sugar and nausea my activity level falls somewhere between a slug and a 12 year old Labrador's.

Just today I exerted myself while trying to coax my pug out from under the deck because he was scared of the mountainous snowdrifts and couldn't fit his roly-poly hind end between the stair treads.  The ten minutes I spent gently persuading him then desperately cursing him because there was no way I could army crawl under there to get him, was a perfect example of the emotional roller coaster I ride nonstop everyday.  This adventure ended with him finally crawling out and whimpering to be picked up and me rushing inside to have my second yak fest of the day in the kitchen sink!

Speaking of food, my sweet, well meaning midwife sat across from me last week in all her size 6 glory after popping out three kids, med free, with her cute little nose ring and recommended that more exercise and homemade Lara Bars would make me feel sooooooo much better!  Again I put on my polite face and thanked her for bestowing her wisdom upon me when I really wanted to scream at her to let me listen to my little nugget's heart beat so I could high tail it out of there to the Taco Bell two blocks away to order myself a bean burrito that would inevitably trigger another bout of heartburn.

So I have officially decided that consequences be damned, I am not one of those women to post #Blessed on my status feed and brag about how being pregnant is the best feeling in the world.  The ugly truth is that this process sucks but in approximately 22 weeks the suckage will be worth the time spent sharing the real estate of my body with my little succubus.  Until then I'll eat my store bought Lara Bars, walk to the bathroom a hundred times a day, and invest in a big vat of Tums.  As for the gas, I'll just blame that on the dogs!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Longest Year of Our Lives

J and I have been together for 10 1/2 years and 2013 has been our longest year together by far!  I saw many Facebook year in review status updates at the end of last month, but I couldn't seem to fit our year into a top 10 type post.  Here is our month by month stressful, exciting, frustrating, joyful, sad, loving and sometimes downright mundane experience.


These two months seemed to blur together in a never ending effort to secure our construction loan.  At 150 emails I stopped counting my communications with the bank to finalize our loan and begin the actual renovation. We also had to swallow that tough little pill life throw's our way sometimes called, I don't care what your plans are, so deal with it. Our loan was roughly half of what we qualified for if we were purchasing a new home, which meant we had to scrap our $3,000 architectural plans and go back to the drawing board. These were hair pulling; going crazy at my parents house; it was friggin' 10 below zero out and we couldn't work on the demolition; no alone time; how many times can the bank resend us the same f'n documents to sign because they messed up the date again kind of months.  Needless to say, our year did not begin with the optimistic start one hopes for whenever the calendar rolls over another numeral with the promise of new beginnings.


We finally closed on our construction loan and I jetted back to the sunshine state for a week of r&r to spend time with friends and soak in the sun.  This was also when I decided to begin blogging and it provided much needed relief to take out my anxiety and frustrations on the keyboard.  After gaining a tan and a bit of perspective, I came back to the Mitten ready to tackle the next few months of construction.  With an anticipated move in date of July it seemed our year had finally hit a turning point!

With Spring in the air we got straight to work and hired out the remainder of the large scale demolition so we could move forward with building.  In a blur of dumpsters and work crews our spirits were soaring the first couple weeks of the month.  Monsoon like weather brought progress to a screeching halt and set the tone for the rocky relationship we could encounter with our general contractor for the remainder of the project. 

This month was also when we had a major scare upon discovering a lump in my breast.  My OB confirmed there was in fact a lump and at 30 years old I had my first ultrasound and mammogram.  Older women complain about this procedure but it did not prepare me for the hurricane of emotions and feeling of complete violation I experienced that day.  As I waited in my cheap hospital issue gown in a waiting room full of women 50 and over, I buried my face in a two year old issue of Better Homes and Gardens to escape the looks of pity, question, and concern being directed my way.  When my name was finally called I thought I was going to pass out when the technician explained to me where to place my breasts on the machine and what they were going to do to them.  For any guys reading, just picture your testicles being clamped in a vice.  Enough said!

After a torturous week of waiting and testing, the results were in that it was a benign mass.  The doctor will continue to monitor it and may remove it one day if it does not dissolve on it's own, but my week of hell gave me a much greater appreciation for the strength of men and women who have a much more devastating outcome.  As cliché and it sounds, this experience really did change my life because I realized how precious health is and how quickly it can be taken away from us.

I purchased my first kayak and enjoyed the peaceful beauty that Michigan has to offer when we're not buried under a glacier!  Slicing through the bayou waters is unbelievably calming.  It has always been difficult for me to meditate, but on the water it is fascinating how quickly paddling can clear your mind. The warm weather has also meant more time spent at the dog park with Milo and Gizmo catching up on my reading while they lazed in the grass nearby.  The rain finally went on hiatus and after several angry and sometimes downright vulgar phone calls exchanged with our General Contractor, a bit of progress was finally made, but our July move in became a pipe dream.

This month was literally a back breaker!  "We", (mostly I), spent hours which turned into days and weeks, digging out a trench around the entire front and side of our house.  This was done while the siding crew dangled precariously overhead on their ladders.  The trench had to be dug to the footing of the basement and wide enough to stand up in it to tar and flash the exterior block wall to prevent water from seeping into the interior.  This job would normally be contracted out and done by machine, but with zero dollars left in the budget and a bank account that was stroke worthy, we laced up our work boots, adorned leather gloves, and grabbed a few spades.  NEVER AGAIN!

In addition to spending a small fortune on Aleve for ourselves, we confirmed our fear that our Million Dollar Puggle had indeed torn his second ACL and would require another surgery.  By some miracle our veterinarian and family friend not only agreed to let us make payments, but was willing to barter.  He needed the floors in his facility stripped and waxed for a 20th anniversary party, and we were broke and desperate to volunteer.  We swapped our shovels for mops and an industrial floor polisher and then spent the next 8 weeks carrying Milo up and down the stairs multiple times a day so his leg would heal properly.

We finally had some alone time when my parents went on a week long vacation with my brother and sister-in-law!  We enjoyed a tapas style dinner on the fourth of July and I even convinced J to walk downtown for the fireworks after a hard day of working on the house.  We scrubbed the wall studs and floor joists in an effort to remove any residual odors from 83 year old wood and remediated a mold issue caused by our contractors failure to properly seal the house during the typhoon spring had brought upon us.  Needless to say this did not help us build rapport with him and the relationship became tenser than a tightrope. Circus act aside, we were able to insulate and all the drywall was installed.  Insulating is another DIY that I would never choose to do again.  We saved thousands of dollars, but to this day I itch head to toe just thinking out it!

Our July move in date came and went, but cabinets had to be hung, flooring and tile installed, and walls needed to be painted.  We had a major lapse in judgment and hired a painter off Craigslist.  Her online reviews seemed complimentary but we experienced a bait and switch when the crew that arrived included her boyfriend/fiancé of two weeks (yes, I do mean they had only been together a total of two weeks!), and his band mates wanting to make extra cash with zero painting abilities.  The ceiling paint was used on the walls, the drywall imperfections were painted over instead of addressed, and there were more smoke breaks than hours in the day. The grand finale was when an impromptu wedding meant they just didn't show up for almost a week!

Suffice it to say they were released from their contract, but not before the boyfriend/fiancé/husband actually removed his shirt, pointed out his Celtic tattoo, and demanded to fight J!  For those of you who know J, the absurdity of this situation is laughable.  My ultimate lover not a fighter hubby would only fight if it was for his life, not because an artsy fartsy, heavy metal Jesus band hippy claimed we were sexist and only firing them because his "wife" owned the business!  He apparently suffers from temporary amnesia or illiteracy because the contracted agreement was a one week time frame that included drywall spackling, caulking and painting all trim, and painting the doors.  His invitation to go MMA style in our front yard came after we had given them two extra weeks and they hadn't even finished the wall paint yet!

And so the remainder of the month was spent painting which I despise doing, but since J works insane hours and I was only working part time for the summer months, the baton, or paintbrush rather was unceremoniously handed off to me. A few late nights with dad's help meant new cabinets and flooring were installed and the good people of Lowe's carpeted the bedrooms and stairs in mere hours, thus completing the requirement for us to obtain our certificate of occupancy.  We were finally able to move in!  Oh yeah, I also turned 31.  Guess my 20's are really gone now!

Cattails Kindergarten Readiness was officially open for business!  My goal to run my own business had become a reality and J and I breathed a collective sigh of relief because we literally moved in a week before school started, so there was no time to spare.  As we slowly unpacked and set up each room, our obvious need for more space became the elephant in the room.  One month in and I was spending evenings on Zillow and Trulia causing J's anxiety to reach scary new heights! 

Luckily we had a regular escape from reality through our season football tickets for Michigan State.  The hour and 45 minute drive on Saturdays offered a welcome reprieve from the checklist of items we still needed to complete at home.  We even got to treat grandpa and grandma to their first game, and after being soaked and cold for the first two games, we were happy that the game we brought them to was blue skies and warm fall temperatures.  They put in as many hours on our renovation as we did and it was nice to spend time with them outside a construction zone or family function!

Also, MSU is not the only one with beautiful green turf, we finally have a yard!  J was very eager to drive the tractor to level the yard, but in the interest of sanity we broke down and hired someone to finish what we started.  In a few days our yard went from a dirt pile to a lush landscape.  It was worth every penny!

Apparently I like to see J hit his melting point because I set up an open house for family, friends, and neighbors to come see the work we had been obsessing over for the past 18 months.  After hiring out the landscaping, his sole focus became completing the back deck.  Unfortunately this meant the day before the event he was frantically tiling the fireplace and kitchen backsplash, painting trim, and hanging pictures.  As I was diligently following his frenzied trail trying to clear the dust and debris, the lights went out and a slew of explicatives drifted through the house.  While dutifully hanging my gallery pictures the night before our big reveal, and not complaining about it at all *cough, cough, he managed to drill right into a major electrical cord and cause the entire left side of the house to lose power.  Oops! Luckily he is very handy and was able to temporarily fix it until the electrician could come out. So with trim 80% painted, a deck without railing, sans shoe molding, and grout still drying, we opened our doors to about 70 guests! C'est la vie!

The month ended a bit calmer with full size Snicker's bars for Trick-or-Treater's who braved the rain, and craft beer for the adults as a result of our gross miscalculation for how much people would actually consume at the aforementioned open house!  The night cap was grandpa's famous apple dumplings piping hot and laden with vanilla ice cream.

Since October we completed ZERO projects on our house.  We literally hit a wall and decided to hire out the painting in the Spring.  We enjoyed more Saturday tailgates at our alma mater, and spending time with college friends.  After agreeing that we really do need more space, J and I called a truce on the house hunt and decided 3 to 5 years is the magic number.  I say 3, with the first year beginning this past January, so we'll see.  Our house would be perfect for us if the top floor was not soley dedicated to my business, but the pursuit of my dreams unfortunately eats up valuable real estate, so my plans to expand my class size will be placed on hold until we have more elbow room.
This month also included a fun date night when J and I went to "Prom" together!  I got ready at a friend's house, and J came and picked me up all spiffed out in a tux with a corsage in hand.  It was for a fundraiser that was held at the local country club, and it was so nice to get dressed up for a night of dinner and dancing with friends.

A couple weeks later, despite the tight fit, we managed to host our first Thanksgiving.  It was a bittersweet time because it was a tradition held by my grandma, passed to my mom, and now bestowed on me, but we also learned it would likely be my grandpa's last when his test results confirmed he had cancer.  We pushed the couch into the kitchen and set up two tables in the living room. Here we shared a lot of laughter and some tears as my parents, grandparents, brother and his family, aunts, uncles, and cousins feasted on turkey dinner and apple pie.  We began a new tradition of writing in a thankful journal and as I read each entry aloud we realized how truly blessed we are.

This was definitely the longest 31 days of the year.  Our first year as season ticket holders and our team made it to the Rose Bowl Championship!  We got a phone call that grandpa's cancer was terminal and they were talking in terms of mere months.  The next day I peed on a stick and had not one but two purple lines staring back at me! 
Grandpa was rushed to the hospital after passing out and hospice was called in for his final weeks.  We told him and grandma our news and his reaction was so priceless J and I will cherish it always.  Only six days later, grandpa passed. Earlier this year he had been up on a ladder pulling plaster off the ceiling of our fixer upper. 
The following week was filled with family dinners, visitation, and the funeral.  The pastor's eyes popped out further than my growing belly when I mentioned tattoos, Buddha, and my grandpa getting fresh with grandma during my eulogy. We had our first visit with the nurse and so far we're right on track and healthy.  Over winter break we told our parents and siblings the big news.  Finally, on New Year's Eve we welcomed our newest niece to the world and rang in the new year with close friends who have truly become family over the years.

A Year In Review:
As you can see this has been a very long twelve months, but the song Season's Of Love perfectly captures our 2013.  How do you measure a year?


Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Long Awaited and Terribly Tardy Reveal

So I had BIG plans to make a video montage on YouTube, but it never happened.  We worked tirelessly to move in by the end of August so I could host my Kindergarten Readiness meet and greet.  The day after Labor Day school started, and then I drove J almost over the cliff when I invited over 100 people over for our big open house in October.  After that I meekly reminded him that we were hosting Thanksgiving, and alas, we have our very first foray into the world of house concerts this Sunday!  All this amidst having season tickets for Michigan State football which was a perfect first year to have them as our team is now smelling roses! Needless to say we have been busy and I have completely dropped the ball on blogging.

Without further adieu or excuses, here is the final result of our full scale renovation:






There are still projects like shoe molding and paint touch-ups, but we have run out of steam.  This spring we'll also begin tackling more small scale projects like a mudroom locker and fireplace surround, but until then we've decided to hibernate for the winter!

Monday, August 5, 2013

The First Official Before and After

While this is not the BIG REVEAL it is a sample of how far we have come on our renovation.  Fingers and toes crossed we will be living here by the end of this month!  This journey has been an experience that I hope to never repeat, but the effort we have put in is finally paying off.  I haven't posted in a while and may not over the course of the next few weeks as we hang cabinets, install bamboo flooring, prep my preschool studio, and landscape the backyard.  If I have any sanity left after that then I will be posting a complete before and after that will go room by room.  I hope to make these detailed posts that include where we purchased the materials and an approximate breakdown of cost to show how dollar savvy can still translate into designer classy!  Remember we are going for the craft beer of homes: tasteful and affordable.

Here is an original sketch of the layout when we purchased the home.  I apologize for all the markings as this was the one we used to mark our measurements for our architect.
Back of House Front of House

The layout had the front door enter into the dining room with the kitchen beyond.  The bathroom was right off the kitchen with a utility room and a hallway leading to the basement behind it.  To the left of the dining room was the living room and behind that was a small bedroom.  A narrow and very steep stairway off the kitchen led to two upstairs bedrooms.  The small corner pictured on the left hand side was a one car detached garage.
Back of HouseFront of House
The new layout kept the living room in the original position, but moved the front door so that the entry is now into the living area.  The windows on the left side of the house were eliminated to make room for a gas fireplace and a two stall attached garage.  The side of the house was squared off to create a new hallway to the basement steps and a utility area in the back of the house.  This picture does not reflect changes we made during the building process which include extending the back of the house another 6 feet to create a mudroom and a hallway pantry.  The bedroom that was behind the living room has been converted into an eat in kitchen giving the first floor an open concept.  The old dining room and kitchen are now being used as two bedrooms and a bathroom.  The original bathroom was also extended by 6 feet to create an en suite bathroom and walk in closet in the master bedroom.  By keeping the stairs in their original position and just switching the direction it opened up the second story allowing enough space for a 350 square foot studio space for my business and a powder bathroom.  The area under the stairs was also utilized for an additional closet in the master bedroom and a built in dog crate. 
Here is a side-by-side of then and now:
                                 Then                                                        Now
                           3 bedrooms                                               3 bedrooms
                           1 bathroom                                               2 1/2 bathrooms
                          U-shaped kitchen                                      L-shaped kitchen
                          Dining Room                                            Eat-in kitchen             
                          Utility Room                                             Utility Room
                          1 stall detached garage                              Extra Large 2 stall attached garage
                          Living room with 8 ft ceiling                    Living room with 9 1/2 ft ceiling

                          3 closets                                                    5 closets

After we had to ditch the architects plans because we couldn't build up as planned J and I talked tirelessly about the options for a new layout.  We went through 10 or more drafts before I came up with the idea of flipping the bedrooms to the other side of the house.  The sketch above is J's handy work that he put to scale from one of my renderings and even here you can make out eraser marks where it evolved as we spent time doing the demolition and I poured over Pinterest and design magazines. Overall we sacrificed about 30 square feet from the original space but gained a more functional layout.  After reconfiguring the heating and plumbing we also gained about 350 square feet of usable living space in the basement which we will be tackling after we move in.  Here is a sneak peek at the front elevation:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Building Knowledge Is My Business

The original intent of this blog was to track my journey of renovating, starting a business, and beginning a family.  I have posted several times about the first and third, but barely touched on what type of business I am doing.  When J and I moved here from the sunshine state I was teaching 4th grade and had decided that my passion was definitely with the younger age group, namely preschool and kindergarten.  I discovered that due to a series of local budget cuts preschool was getting the proverbial boot to cover the state wide switch to all day kindergarten.  This essentially left me with two options: complete my master's degree so my out of state license would be transferable or use my business savvy and years of experience to start my own preschool.  While I still intend to complete my Master's degree I could not do so in the 6 months between us deciding to move and actually packing up and trekking north across the Mason Dixie line so beginning a business it was!

The house when we purchased it.

The only reason I can think of as to why we decided to renovate is because we're insane, but in the meantime I needed to generate some income and build a reputation so that when the doors of my pre-k studio open I will have an established foundation.  This is the part that makes me really crazy!  Not only did we make the choice to stay with my parents during this renovation process, but I also work with my mom.  She's had an in-home daycare since I was 8 years old and working with her allowed me a rent free space and the luxury of working under somebody else's license while I learned the ropes.

The walk out basement my mom uses for her daycare.
It hasn't always been easy because we are essentially running two different businesses under one roof, but the payoff has exceeded my expectations.  There have been difficult moments like 90 degree days with only a window AC unit, a flooded basement, and the addition of a Taj Mahal size dog crate in an already tight space thanks to our Million Dollar Puggle. In the end though I was able to build up a solid client base and because I originally started out with three kids my mom's kids provided them with valuable social interaction during our daily free play.

Our first school year has been over since last month and I am thankful for my lax schedule this summer as we move toward the final push to complete our house.  With my experience in a Core Knowledge School I did not think twice about ordering and adhering to their curriculum and with a plethora of ideas on Pinterest it was a blast planning my thematic units each week.  I am looking forward to expanding my business and becoming a contributor in the community but when I look back I know I will always have a soft spot in my heart for this first year and the kids that I was lucky enough to have as my students!
My first three Preschool kids!  So excited two will be here in the fall, but sad to lose one to Kindergarten.