Tenley Boo Boo

94% of the photos I have of our only child are candid- mostly as she’s studying something or playing.

I took thousands of pictures of her as a baby.  Then she had enough and now at almost five she does not do photos

The photos of her now definitely tell a greater story-

This picture for instance was right as we were moving in.  She loves that she can look out the window at her height.  She was naming all the birds in our field.  And singing the latest Disney song floating in her head.

She wants nothing to do with a camera. There is no candy bar or toy in the world that will even get her to smile when she sees the camera.

Keep naming those birds sweet child- I’ll capture those memories just as you are…

I’ve been looking at different ways to ‘keepsake’ her childhood milestones-  Do you use pictures or paper to capture your child’s triumphs in life?


The First 7 Things I Learned From Our IKEA Kitchen Build…

So one thing ya’ll need to get right now is I have an insane obsession with IKEA… I love that place.  Just warnin ya.  The love runs deep.

I spent 3 hours there my first trip.  I went through it twice.  I feel like I missed things.

It took three more trips, with the boy and Tenley this time, to convince him that this would be our perfect kitchen.  That I could get everything I wanted out of a kitchen with these cabinets.


Tenley was obviously convinced…

Who wouldn’t swoon over this??? Seriously!

Having a kitchen that is 90% drawers is pricey.  On average our bids from cabinet and kitchen shops in our area were 35-40% higher.

I wanted that money for other things.  So it was time for sweat equity.

Here are the first 7 things I learned from our IKEA kitchen build:

  1. Prep more than you did for your ACT/SAT/PHD/CPA/and ADULTHOOD combined!
    • Do not think you will go there one time and sit at the desk and design your kitchen and be out in an hour.  If you do.  Then good for you.  But no one is giving you a medal cause you just a show off and you probably forgot a shelf and you’re going to look stupid putting your cabinet together with no support shelf………… WOAH! got that out of my system.
    • Practice the layout online in the tool and have it ready when you get to the store.
    • Make friends with an IKEA Kitchen Planner Employee.   They will not catch everything- and neither will you-  but once you’ve been through it more than once you will have it narrowed down.
    • Buy during a Kitchen EVENT!  We saved 20% when we purchased during a Kitchen event.  They usually run at least twice a year around March/April and July/August.
  2. Organize, Organize & Organize some more…
    • However you organize- ORGANIZE… and if you are not an organizer then keep reading cause you going to need to start.
    • For me- it was a binder with the following tabs:
      • Floorplan-with locations of plumbing and lighting.
      • Drafts– chronological lists of the kitchen drafts in order with newest on top-  I never threw away the old until the plan was locked down- and the online editor lets you duplicate the plans so you can keep the old ones incase you need to go backwards without redoing it all.
      • Must-Haves- Make a registry of all the items you want in your cabinets now or in the future.  This way you can plan the cabinets with the capabilities and acquire them as you go or all at once.  IKEA Registries are free and online so two birds/one stone when your Housewarming Party comes around!
      • Reciepts- Keep them all. You can look them up if they are lost but it is so much easier as always to keep these receipts.
  3. Team Work Makes the Dream Work
    • Our kitchen has a total of 23 cabinets- that was 234 total boxes weighing 3,211 lbs… DID YOU COMPREHEND THAT! Still blows my mind.  Get a buddy- Husband, wife, sister, mother, cousin, neighbor -who doesn’t mind lifting and organizing and buy them a present-
    • Take advantage of IKEA delivery-  It was $79 to deliver and for us this was completely worth it- Renting a Uhaul or your own trailer and moving it again- nope.  This allows you to also cut down on your time in store.  Let them deliver it to your site, or storage unit in our case.
  4. “You can’t eat an elephant in one bite”
    • As I mentioned before Prep is of the utmost importance- and rushing is not going to help you.  Don’t jump into the boxes and start building.
    • Your kitchen will print in a sheet organized by Cabinet number. Organize your boxes by Cabinet.  (I.E. put all of cabinet 3 boxes in a pile and write on them the cabinet number.)
    • Only once you’ve given every box a home should you start building.
  5. Pretend you are a kindergartener and READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS FIRST.
    • I feel like this should be stapled to every box- in huge red letters.
    • Once you have all the boxes organized into their cabinet number READ-THE-DIRECTIONS.  every cabinet base will most likely go together the same way but the way you put the drawers and doors on may differ.   You don’t want to have  change the screws around 5 times.  Measure twice cut once/ read twice assemble once.
  6. Give Yo’self Some Space-
    • Don’t build in the exact same space you’re installing- you will have to hang the suspension rail and having cabinets in the way will just make you mad.
    • Layout the cardboard from the first couple boxes you open on the floor as a padding.
    • Build in the order they are being installed.  Corners will go in first.  And Uppers before Lowers.
    • The tall cabinets can be heavy! Use your buddy and dont try lifting anything yourself because it will bind up the cabinet and you’ll be redoing the work.
  7. Trust your judgement, and the exchange lady at the friendly IKEA counter
    • The IKEA returns/exchange counter is a magical place.  They really are the best.
    • If you’re putting a cabinet together and it feels like is not what you want they will take back ANYTHING!  They will exchange completely built cabinets or cabinets in a box! They do not care.  They want your purchase to be right and they will help anyway they can.  DISCLAIMER: As with all customer service you can get employees that do not care- ask for someone else- they will not want you to leave unhappy.


This was everything we learned before even INSTALLING the darn things.  I could write a book.

For another day though…

Closing Time

Closing week is here… My first actual post now that the madness has calmed… Let’s do this…

christmas house

This picture always makes me laugh.

I set my camera on the tailgate of our truck with a timer and ran to get this picture.

Tripped the first time…

It took 4 more tries to get one without our daughter flailing her arms around…

Josh is holding a wreath because I made him… Like threatened to poke him with a fake garland metal leaf made him…  He loves me.

It was the week of Christmas 2016 and I wanted to remember everything about it. We lived with his Mother while we built and I could not have been more happy to be there during the Holidays believe me.  Her house is like Pottery Barn meets Hobby Lobby during the Holidays and it will be some of my favorite memories but this memory right here will be with me forever.

We were supposed to be in the house by the time this photo was taken…  But schedules slip and contractors are terrible and life goes on.  We never stopped smiling.  We never stopped looking at the bright side.

Look, if you are building or are thinking of building put your bulletproof vest on because it wont stop.   The obstacles keep on coming like anything in life and you have to roll with them or you will look back and regret the journey you chose.

Never regret the journey.

I am going to cry tomorrow in the closing room with our lender.  We won’t get a set of keys in an office and walk into a professionally cleaned completed home at the end of this build.  We literally have cuts, bruises and war stories going into this closing… and I’m pretty sure I lost the keys like a month ago in the garage somewhere when I installed my own doorknobs…


That chapter is over now- we are here… and I cant wait to watch her run in that yard and sit on that porch and him to throw away that wreath when he unpacks it again…

Its about the journey… you have to know what it took to get you there to appreciate what you have.