Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Behind the Scenes : How do I like Texas?

I get asked the above question a lot.  By almost every single person I tell that we just moved here from Florida.  I guess it's natural, but my answer is a lot more complicated than the casual aquantances I've met so far really want to hear.  Or at least I'm guessing so.

So, how do I like Texas?

Let's start with the obvious.  (Yes, random family pictures of mostly Kalia are going to pop up throughout this post that make absolutely no sense because it's a sin to have a post without pictures, and she is just too darn cute to not share!)

The weather.
recent trip out to San Fran.
It's wonky so far.  You have to understand that I was born and raised in Florida.  The coldest place I'd ever lived was Gainesville, FL.  I owned a pair of jeans and two sweat shirts when I went to college.  I'm used to warm, midly hot, hot, extremely hot, and there's a hurricane coming type of weather.

so proud of herself for emptying out the wipes container...oiy.
I was freezing when we came up here in April for our house hunting trip and only had jeans and a sweater, no jacket.  April ... cold?  What??

Kalia and I arrived at temporary living April 26th.  That gave us a good solid week of normal sometimes cool sometimes enjoyable weather.  Then the tornadoes came.  And we were in a rickety apartment.  The weather people told us to head to our storm shelter and put our cars in the garage.  Umm...what's a storm shelter?  I'm used to having hurricane parties because everything shuts down for DAYS before the storm arrives and DAYS after it leaves.  The whole "you've got 5 minutes, there's a crazy thing coming up, RUN!!!" with an almost 2 year old and an anxious yellow lab who hates any rain storms was kind of freaky.  And even though this is a mild summer, it is HOT HOT HOT here!

And I hated the apartment.  That didn't help, although that really has nothing to do with Texas.  The maintenance guys would just come in without giving you a call ahead to say they were coming.  Then they started showing up in multiples.  I'm pretty sure it doesn't take 3 grown men to fix a drainage issue in the bathtub.  I felt vulnerable and so so alone in that apartment.  When I went for jogs, I'd see weird people in the woods next to the jogging path, and that totally freaked me out too, so I stopped doing that as well.

So the first month I went to a bad place.  I knew nobody here, most stay at home Mom's aren't in apartments so I didn't meet anyone at the apartment complex, and Kodi and Kalia were pretty freaked out by the apartment, so I didn't really do as much exploring as I would've liked to with Kalia.  She is such a strict schedule kinda gal too, which makes just getting up and exploring rather hard.  Oh, and I didn't have a smart phone when I first got there, and my only computer was packed away in storage.  So I had no internet access until Chris came home from work to look up what to do either.

Should've probably stopped this prior to getting the pic - oh well!
And I went to a bad place.  Which means I shut down.  I tried to not shut down with Kalia, but she's a smart little girl and I know she picked up on a lot of it.  I tried to be fun and cheery and the best I could for her, but that was probably about 30% of the normal me, which wasn't fair to her.

Again, nothing to do with Texas.

Then we moved into our house.  My MIL came, I got to go on a date night with Chris for our anniversary, I got to get our home setup to be a home instead of just a place we lived, and I felt good.  I literally felt this huge weight just lifted.  I ventured all over the place to meet people.  Pools, parks, our neighborhood...anywhere someone returned a smile, I talked to them and told them we were new and knew no one and almost every time that someone got my number or email and got in touch with me inviting us out to go do this or go do that.

My funk lifted, Kalia's didn't.  That month that I closed up in the apartment and just talked to her, she closed up and just talked to Chris and I too.  And she's old enough to really really miss her old friends and neighbors and old activities we used to do, but not old enough to understand why we can't do them anymore or see those people every day or every week like we used to.  So she stopped talking to anyone other than people she knew, which after my MIL left, consisted of Chris and I.

She would cry when other kids would talk to her and cling to one of us like they were monsters.  If we pushed, she bawled crying.  It's pretty hard to make friends with people when you're child is crying because they look at her or heaven forbid talk to her.

And I felt terrible.  I felt like such a bad Mom...I felt like I failed in explaining things or preparing her for all of the change that was about to take place.  I felt selfish for closing up in that apartment.

Again, nothing to do with Texas.

Here's the problem.  I have an amazing group of friends.  I am so so blessed to have the quality and quantity of girl friends that I do.  All but two of them lived in the Tampa Bay area with me.  One of them even moved TO Tampa the month or so before I left.  My best friend since 4th grade lives there with her husband who I was good friends with in high school and college.  We played volleyball together, from junior high until I moved to Texas.  My old neighbors were some of the most amazing people.  They became my family.  One of them came WITH US to our volleyball games to watch Kalia for MONTHS until I felt comfortable leaving Kalia at home without us.  Who does that?  Who does that that isn't your Mom or sisters anyways??  And speaking of them, even though no one lived in our area, all of our family was a car ride away.  We could be there in a few hours (a little bit more than a few for Chris's family, but still easily driveable), and now we're pushing it to make it to see just Chris's folks and his brothers family by car.  My family is most definitely a plane ride.  And so are all of our friends.

And I didn't realize how hard it was to actually meet friends when you have a child.  I've made exactly one new friend since Kalia's birth.  She has become one of my very best friends, but just one.  Sure, I've made acquaintances, but not the same as the girls you call to vent and laugh and cry and go for coffee or a drink or have over when you're in your pj's and no makeup on.  I had an entire handful of those girls in Tampa, and most of them had kids around Kalia's age.  She had real friends that she has grown up with and that she really misses.

So I guess what I'm saying is that Texas people are some of the nicest people that I've ever met.  They're warm and caring and generous and welcoming.  And I miss my friends.  A lot.  And so does Kalia.

I love how outdoorsy Texas is, I love how everywhere I turn there is parks and playgrounds and community activities.  I love that all of my neighbors here brought us welcoming food and made it a point to introduce themselves.  I love that there are kids everywhere here.

I really miss my friends and my old neighborhood and the close proximity of our family though.

I knew well before I shared with anyone that we were leaving Florida.  The jobs just weren't there, and if I'm afforded the luxury of being able to do what I want and what makes me happy, and I can do that anywhere, my husband deserves to do what he loves and makes him happy as well.  I was so excited and optimistic about the move.  I looked at it as a gift.  Everywhere I've lived, I've made new friends, and everywhere I've gone, I've taken them with me.  Regardless of if they lived there or not.  So it's a gift that I get to make more friends and keep the ones I have.

It's hard too though.  Because you don't make those friends over night or over a few months.  Those types of friendships take awhile to develop.  I've never lived anywhere where I knew zero people outside of my immediate family.  I always had a base that I grew on.  Texas is starting from ground zero.

And I know they'll come.  I know those friendships will come, and I know Kalia will recover and grow and learn from this too.  I know that it'll unite us as a family closer because we only have each other to hold onto.  One of my friends told me the other day that I have to get out without Kalia.  That I need to take a Mommy break for myself, or to go hang out with one of my new friends I've made.  Another one told me that it's fine for me to be the only friend to a 2 year old, but it is not fine for my only friend to be a 2 year old.  I miss those friends.  They're here, they're just not here. 

I realize I sound whiney.  I promise not to be all the time on any future behind the scenes posts, but this is just real.  Just raw.  Just me.

I know, buck up Kara.

Kalia started talking to kids again on the 4th of July.  Slowly at first, just the boy across the street.  But she's gradually talked to a few more kids, and we've even had new friends over for a playdate and been to their house for a playdate.  She takes about an hour to warm up, but she's getting there.  Adults are no go's though.  Except for the Mom of the new friends and the little boy's parents across the street.  We talk about it a lot.  She tells me she's scared of people.  I tell her I'm always here and they're not scary and she can hold my hand extra tight, but that we need to start talking to people again.  She's making progress.  We're making friends.

So, I like Texas.  I just really miss my friends! I guess the moral of my story is: if my friends were crappier, my life would be easier right now!  :-)

I'll be back later this week to share kitchen pictures, so stay tuned for that!  Happy hump day guys!

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Texas House : Kalia's Nursery Suite

For many of you, Kalia's nursery was what brought you over to my blog in the first place.  Here it is at our last house :

And here's what it started with there :

Yeah, about a million times better.  Maybe 2 million.  We did so many DIY projects in there, it was definitely a labor of love.

Kalia hasn't adjusted so well to the move.  We were in an apartment for a month, which was so confusing to her.  She's at that awkward age where she remembers stuff, knows what she wants, but can't exactly express it or her emotions that she's feeling.  The first time she talked to any other little kid since the first week of us being here was the 4th of July.  She still won't talk to adults.

So, we knew it was so important to get her room set up just the way it was before asap.  We were so so thankful that my MIL came to help out with the move.  It allowed us to paint Kalia's room prior to the movers showing up with our stuff (walls moonshine by benjamin moore and closet lucerne by benjamin moore), and on day 2 of living there, get everything on the walls the exact way it was before.  Here's what we started with.  Much better than the above before picture!

And here's what it looks like when you walk in :

I did say previously that those bookshelves would stay if we ever left our Florida house.  I never really thought we'd leave when I said that though.  They came with us.

The wall here is a little bit smaller so we had to cut them down by about 8 inches.  I think they're my most favorite thing still.

The ABC wall is Kalia's favorite.  She asked for it nonstop when we were in the apartment.  When we moved here that was the first thing she asked for "ABC's on the wall!!!".  Chris didn't really want to put 26 more holes in the wall, but Kalia and I outnumber him!

Here is the view from Kalia's closet on the other side of the room.

I realize the curtains look like high-waters.  They work for now, and I really do love the curtains, just wish they were longer.  I'll probably sew something on there when they start to bother me too much.  When she's ready for her big girl bed, one of the daybeds will go where the dresser is, and the dresser will move to the other wall.  I still don't love the cream trim, and all of my accents are white though.  If I win the lottery I'll pay someone to paint all of the doors, shutters, and trim white.  Gotta get on playing first!

We built the bookshelves, dresser, and the K with my maternity pictures of Kalia on there. All of that is linked up in Kalia's initial nursery tour here.

Here's the view to the left of the crib.

You can see the picture frame with fabric and mini clothes pins I did for her before she was born.  I want to hang them closer together, they bug me as is.  We spaced them a little bit too far apart.

Kalia's closet was "prettier" at the last house, but she's got more room with it here.  She loves that little mirror down there, and it's anchored on with a nail on either side, so I'm not worried about it going anywhere.  That's the toy box we built for her along with the no sew cushion I made.

Across from her room is her bathroom.  She loves the big tub in our bathroom, so I haven't touched this room yet.  I imagine it'll stay pretty plain for a little while, although she was begging me to get these bobble headed monkeys for her bathroom decor at bed, bath, and beyond the other day.  Already?!

So that's it!  Kalia's nursery.  What do you guys think?  It's still one of my favorite rooms in the house!   It is funny / odd to me that the moonshine gray color reads more blue in this house than in the last one.  I don't know if that's because the ceilings are all painted that almond color or just different light or what.  It's so different how almost every ceiling in the Texas houses that we looked at were painted the same as the wall color.  I had that same gray in Kalia's room, the in-law suite, the laundry room, our bathroom, and the half bath at the old house and it definitely didn't have a blue hue to it in any of those rooms.  Funny how paint does that!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  Happy Monday!
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Texas House : Living Room

Our living room in this house feels a little bit bigger than our last, although if you'll remember, we had a pretty big one in our last house as well.

As a refresher, here's what the selling picture of our living room looked like :

I couldn't get the same exact angel (darn no wide angle lenses!), but here's what it looks like now from pretty much the same viewpoint :

All of our furniture kind of fit like a glove in this living room, with the exception of the rug.  I really wanted a larger area rug at the last house too, so I kept my eye out for one that I'd like that would fit into this space when we were in temporary living.  Serena and Lily had a 30% additional off sale price, and I found exactly what I wanted.

Everything else is pretty much the same, with the exception of that coffee table.  I had gotten the round one when Kalia started walking.  Our previous table (you can see it under the window in the first picture of the old house) I nick named the death table.  I love, love, love the look of it, but we obviously got it before Kalia came into the picture.  It is super not kid friendly!

We found this one on craigslist (along with almost all of our new bedroom furniture, stay tuned for that post!), and it has the same feel as the old one, but with rounded edges.  Perfection!  It is so nice to be able to set a few drinks or magazines or whatever on a flat surface without having the small circle to work with!

We left my pallet shelves screwed into the wall at the old place, so this bowl houses all of my magazines and coasters.

The fireplace wall is my favorite.  I love it so much.  The hidden TV behind those cabinet doors to the left, the fireplace itself, and the bookshelf (that looks sort of sparse, but that's what I've got to put in it for now!) make me so happy!!

I love all of the crown molding and big baseboards in this house as well.  The shutters, and all of the trim is a creamy off-white.  I love white trim, but I'm not re-painting it all in this house.  Not with the shutters matching the cream color.  Trim I'm up for, shutters?  Outside of my patience level!  It is growing on me though!

So what do you guys think of our living room?  It does feel pretty homey to us since this was our basic setup for the last 5 years!

Hope everyone is having a great week!
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Friday, July 19, 2013

New House Pictures : Texas

As promised, here's my actual house tour.  I haven't gone around and taken room to room pictures of the house yet, so these pictures are the listing pictures of the home.  I will soon though, there's so much more to see (and the house has so much more life to it with our stuff in it - Kalia and Kodi help :-)).

The front.  This picture was taken when it was still coolish outside (seasons...weird...), so everything has greened up quite a bit.

A huge selling feature of this house was this gate.  Behind the gate, off to the side of the garage, is a big courtyard area with a super nice basketball net.  We love to close the gate and all play basketball (including Kodi and Kalia!) and not worry about either one of them running into the street.  The street is pretty quiet, but they're both a little crazy, so better safe than sorry!

The living room.  I love that fireplace.  And the TV goes inside of that closed cabinet.  We still don't allow Kalia to watch TV yet (with the exception of college football - Go Gators!!), so this is a great "outta sight, outta mind" solution for us!

This is the view from the other side of the fireplace, looking into the kitchen and breakfast nook area.

Here is the kitchen.  It already isn't this color paint on the walls anymore.  It was too busy for me.  Chris came home to the kitchen being painted and said he knew I wouldn't last a month with it that way!  I'll share before and after pictures soon!

I do love how big it is, we were used to a large kitchen in our old home, and this is very comparable.  I have visions of putting a vent hood over the feels like it got dressed and forgot to put on it's pants to me, and I also am tinkering with the idea of tearing out the drawers on the left side of the above picture and moving the whole thing back so our stools can fit all the way underneath the island.  We eat there a lot, I'm not sure why it was designed that way!

I also want to put new handles on the cabinets.  While I don't absolutely love the color of the cabinets, I have zero intentions to paint them.  I'd love to maybe stain them a little bit darker, but I doubt that'll ever come to fruition either!  I'm probably the only one in the whole blogging world who doesn't want to turn their kitchen cabinets white.  I wonder if wood cabinets will become the "so 2000" thing.  Like gold hardware is the so 90's thing...

The kitchen window overlooks the basketball courtyard area and I love it.  Most mornings there are rabbits and about a guzillion birds hanging out in there.  The entire house has plantation shutters on it too, which we absolutely love.  I do love the warmth and texture that curtains bring in, but there is no way I'm doubling up every window here...too expensive!

Here's another view of the breakfast nook...which also is no longer painted that color.

And the butlers pantry.  Not sure why it's called that.  I wish a butler would've came with the house, that would've been awesome!

Next up is the office and the office bath.  It's technically a downstairs bedroom.  There's a full walk-in closet and a full bath attached to it.  The coffered ceiling is amazing.  While I do love the look of painted coffered ceilings, that is an arm workout that I'm not willing to do anytime soon.  It works as is for now!

This is the formal living room, which is what we're using for Kalia's downstairs playroom.  Do people who have formal living rooms ever actually use them?  It's what you see right when you walk in, which generally isn't the most ideal for a playroom, but I don't mind it!

This is the formal dining room.  We put our table the opposite way which opens the room up a lot more.

Here's the entry way.  The door to the left is to the office.  I don't love that the stairs and the whole upstairs is carpeted, but I will admit that it's nice for Kalia's little knees to play on.  

Chris might come home to find that I've ripped out the stair carpet one day though.  I hate it.  I hate vacuuming it!  The rails are really nice though!  I would actually be okay with carpet upstairs if I could just replace the carpet on the stairs!  Someday...

This is the only half bath in the house, and it's off of that butlers pantry area near the kitchen.  It has a future date with my paintbrush as well.

The Master Bedroom.  I love all the windows!

The master bathroom...which also has a future date with my paintbrush...

...and the view from the other side.  We have a giant closet that is through the door in the above picture.  Everything is bigger in Texas.  We tried to find a 'reasonable' sized house.  It didn't exist...

This is what you walk into once you get up the stairs.  We use it as Kalia's upstairs playroom, and keep her more mellow toys up there for wind down time before going to bed.  Both daybeds are in here.  There is a set of doors that closes this whole upstairs off, which was also a huge selling feature.  Someone can knock at the door, Kodi can bark, we can cook, clean, yell, sing, whatever we want to while Kalia is sleeping and she can't hear us.  I cannot even begin to tell you how freeing that feels!  Her bedroom is through the door that you see in the picture below.

One of the two guest rooms.  This will eventually become baby #2's room ... you know, when Kalia gets old enough to babysit him/her....

Onto the outside.  This is our back little porch.

A view of the yard...

...which is obviously missing our pool.  There's room for one, and I do think we'll add one.  After having one at our last house, we've been spoiled by it!  We could buy the house or the pool, but not both, so we chose a house that felt like "home" to us and we'll save for the pool.  There are a few great community pools less than a mile away, so we've been hitting those up A LOT since we've been here!

So that's it!  Our Texas home.  What do you guys think?!  We've been busy busy busy putting our stamp on it, so I'll be back next week with some posts to share!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!  Happy Friday!

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