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Monday

Home Week - Selling and Buying a Home (With Two Under Two)


I'm so excited to kick off Home Week here at Smidge of This! One of the questions I've gotten most often recently is about my experience with selling a home and buying a home with a newborn and a two-year-old. So, how did it go, and what words of wisdom might I have to impart ... and, basically, how did I stay sane.

(Spoiler alert: I barely stayed sane)

So, here's the background. We were living in a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom ranch style house. Around 1850 square feet. We used all three bedrooms as bedrooms and we converted our dining room into an office so my husband could work there. We had two living areas but one was right off of the foyer and fairly "formal" so we never really used that room. You could always find us in the den, the kitchen ... with two little ones and a dad working right off of those two rooms (or trying to work amidst the chaos), we were quickly running out of space. 


We loved the house and loved the area but ultimately decided to list it this past spring and focus on moving out a little bit to get more space!

Here's what we did to ready our home:
+ Majorly purged the extra "stuff." We did lots and lots of selling and dropping off items for charity.
+ Cleared out some larger pieces of furniture from smaller rooms so they appeared roomier. Sold these items or put them into a storage unit we rented.
+ Took down a sentimental chandelier we wanted in our new home and replaced it with a new light fixture.
+ Completed repairs on our home that we knew were necessary or may come up during an inspection (replacing burned out light bulbs, etc)
+ General tidying up and cleaning on a daily basis to ready the home for photography and showing!

We didn't really worry about removing personal photos -- our realtor said that as long as everything looked spacious and neat and tidy, family photos were okay to leave out. Big baby gear like our swing also stayed put.

We had the home photographed and officially listed on a Wednesday with the first showing being held off until that Friday morning at 10am. That gave us the opportunity to pack up weekend bags, drop Camille off for a night with my parents, CLEAN and mop every inch of the house, and exit the house that morning -- heading first to pick up Camille from my mom, then to Sesame Street Live in Charlotte, and then driving straight to Ian's family mountain house for the weekend. YES I packed in way too much that Friday morning and YES it drove me to the brink of insanity and YES I was probably one toddler tantrum short of the world's ugliest ugly cry ... but we survived.

It was so nice being out of town for that first weekend of showings. But ... no offers that weekend.

We returned home to Charlotte and geared up for a week of normalcy while trying to keep our home show-ready with two little ones. If I could pass along any tips here, it was that I kept an empty laundry basket near the front door. When we had a showing request, I ran around the house and threw all of the mess inside it -- slippers, baby toys, folded laundry that hadn't yet been put away, unopened mail, you name it. 

We had a few more showings that did not result in offers. Before our last showing request that following week though, I lit a candle on the kitchen countertop, put the TV on the light classical station, and turned on all of the lights. I had it down to a science! We received a call about an hour later saying that the agent's client loved the house and would be submitting an offer shortly. The offer came through, it was great, and we accepted after some discussion. Why discussion? Because we were slightly panicking that we hadn't seen a home yet that we loved enough to put an offer on! Where were we going to move?!

But then, in the middle of the night one night, I was up feeding my baby in her nursery and looking at areas of Charlotte on Zillow, and I came across OUR NEW HOUSE. I screenshot it and emailed it to our realtor and said "What's up with this one? Still available?" and she set up a showing immediately. I went to scope it out with the girls, my best friend and her girls (pre-screening it for Ian ... we had seen SO many doozies and he was losing hope) on our 5th wedding anniversary, May 28. I had Ian to go by with me later that afternoon, he liked it, and we decided to submit an offer!

The two parts of home buying I detest are going back and forth on the offer and back and forth on inspection/repair agreements. But we somehow made it through all of that nonsense and closed on our home at the end of July. This whole process was so incredibly stressful ... stressful on our marriage, stressful on me emotionally (we were saying goodbye to the house we brought our babies home to!), stressful on the girls, physically stressful with all of the cleaning, moving, heavy lifting -- just a crazy time. But we just tried as a couple to focus on the long-term happiness we were gaining and keep our heads down. It was not easy.

Fast forward nearly five months, and we are loving our new area and the new house. It is only a few miles away from our old home. We have more space and a quieter street. There are plenty of projects we've done (more details on those later this week) and plenty of projects still on our wishlist. If you are considering listing your home and/or buying a new one, I think you just have to embrace the crazy and hold on to that bucking bronco for dear life. And by all means, align yourself with a great realtor!

I did ask my realtor Holly if she'd be up for a little Q+A, and she happily obliged! Here are some tips straight from a seasoned real estate agent. I'd also love to hear your stories about buying and selling your home and any tips you may have to pass along.  

Holly Evans 
Owner/Office Administrator at Brooks-Evans Properties


What traits should you seek out in a realtor? 
There are 3 attributes I think are very important in a realtor. A realtor who is RESPONSIVE. communication is key, be sure the person representing you knows your needs and wishes so they can work on your behalf. A realtor you are COMFORTABLE with. If you aren't able to comfortably talk with someone, they won't be the partner you need while in a heated negotiation....and they all get a little heated! Make sure the realtor you hire is KNOWLEDGEABLE about the area in which you are selling or buying. For example, choosing a realtor that is an expert in lake property will do you no good while looking for a new home in town.

What should you expect of your realtor?
Your realtor should be able to handle any of your expectations as long as you are upfront with your realtor about what you want. Communication is key! At the very least you should expect your realtor to be willing to work around your schedule. Also expect your realtor to be prepared with information about comparable sales in your area if you are selling and detailed information about any house you have an appointment to see when looking to purchase.

How can you ready your home for photography? 
Two easy to remember tips I can give everyone are: Get smaller items and clutter out and off of the floor in corners of rooms, off counter spaces and inside closets. Add light where ever possible! Open drapes and blinds also use higher wattage light bulbs.

How can you ready your home for showings? What if you have pets, kids, etc? 
Plan to be out of the house for all showings! Take your pets unless they can be quiet and inside a crate. Make it seem like no animals even live inside the home. While on the market, cut your children's toys down to a bare minimum so that they can be hidden quickly before a showing. A few children's items are ok however, too many will be distracting. Before leaving for a showing, make sure the trash is out and the home smells nice.

Any insider tips, tricks of the trade? 
Well... I like to keep those for myself and my clients but I will share a couple. Staging helps! If your house has very few updates some fresh updated furniture can do the trick without spending too much on actual updating. Also, if you can only afford to do one thing to ready your house for the market, make that one thing fresh paint! It makes the home looks nice and neat and will smell new too!

What are your thoughts on using social media to promote your home sale? 
Absolutely! Your realtor should showcase your home on real estate sites as well as social media. You can help by also showing your home is for sale on social media, the more people that see the home the more opportunities you will have for an interested buyer to want to take a closer look!


Holly Evans 
Owner/Office Administrator at Brooks-Evans Properties
704-589-1466 
www.Brooks-EvansProperties.com 
"Charlotte Natives Specializing in Southern Charlotte Residential Sales"

Friday

Five On Friday!

It's time for another edition of Five on Friday and I do hope you'll join along!

Remember, all you have to do is post about five things on your mind, add our logo (found at the bottom of this post), and join the party using the linky tools below. Easy, and a great way to find new blogs and be found. :)

O N E
This week started baby music classes for our sweet little Charlotte! We are doing more classes at Music Together and our Charchie-girl was SO excited and happy in class. It was seriously adorable. These classes are not cheap, and lawd knows I didn't really need another item on our already-busy agenda, BUT the feeling I got Monday seeing her do her thing was priceless. Camille was in pre-school so it was just great one-on-one time with my littlest girl. My friend Sarah (whose daughter is also in the class) snapped this picture of me with the girls under the parachute and I snagged it from her Snapchat. :)



T W O
Okay, so I have a little tip to pass along to anyone who is as CHEAP/FRUGAL/STINGY as me.

Earlier this season I fell positively in lovvvvve with this Fireside Night candle that I got from Aldi. It was $6.99 and a great dupe for the Voluspa tin candles which I also love.



But then it burned all the way down. And I was sad.

WELL. I had the best idea today. 

I took a cheese knife and cut out the leftover wax, and I added it to my wax scent warmer! Just stuck the chips right in. And my house smelled like that lovely candle all over again! I got my warmer also from Aldi for $4, and I've decided that it's the perfect thing to have around the house to get the extra mile from your favorite candles. 



(If you aren't close to an Aldi, I also love the look of this sea urchin one from Amazon)

White Sea Urchin Design Ceramic Stoneware Plug-in Outlet Wax and Oil Warmer


T H R E E
One of my sweet blog readers alerted me to this amazing product! She saw last week's photo of me feeding Charlotte from a pouch via spoon and shot me a quick email. She said that they have been so awesome in her family ... I immediately added them to my Amazon cart! They work with food pouches and make it so that the child has to suck on it to get the contents out. No more accidental banana-prune volcano when your kid grasps the pouch a little too forcefully!


(click photo for direct product link)


F O U R
Yesterday I spent $91 at Aldi and got sooooo much. And yes, I stood on our kitchen island barstool to photograph it all.


Here are some of the highlights:

+ For $2.99, this hyacinth in a bulb forcer vase. It smells heavenly in our kitchen!


+ For $0.79/each, ORGANIC baby food pouches. Yep, the ones that are $1-1.50 in stores. This really adds up!


+ For $3.99, the prosciutto panini sticks which are absolutely delicious! They made for a great low-carb snack yesterday afternoon. 



F I V E
Lastly, just some shots of my girls because they have been precious this week and just a joy.




Next week is .... HOME WEEK!

Come on back on Monday and we'll spend all week talking about fun house-related topics -- buying, selling, renovating, decorating on a budget!



TGIF y'all, and hope you will join in on Five on Friday this week! Cheers to the weekend!

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Thursday

Out Of The Comfort Zone (A Fitness + Health Post)

Well, I did it. It's been over three years since my last gym workout. 
THREE YEARS.
But on Tuesday, I rejoined the gym!

I am tired of eating too much fast food. I am tired of sweets from Halloween bleeding into sweets from Thanksgiving bleeding into sweets from Christmas bleeding into sweets from my birthday. About all of that, I have to say, "enough, enough, enough!" 

I'm vowing to eat healthier and I'm vowing to work up a sweat more. In a gym. Just like I always used to do!


Yesterday evening I drove myself and the girls to the gym and put them in childcare. I was ... terrified. Camille and I rehearsed over and over in the car what she would say if someone other than ME tried to take her home "I ON-YEE GO HOME WITH MY MAMAAAAA!" (yes, I'm paranoid)

Charlotte, 9 months old now, is my little treefrog, my little stage five clinger. I knew she would cry terribly when I handed her over, and she did. Even though it was hard putting Camille in daycare at 3 months old, the girl never had an issue going into the arms of someone she didn't know. Charlotte is so different. Soooo different. 

But by 4:40 I had both girls secured in childwatch and I took a 55-minute long dance class and loved it! 

It felt great to move around and shake my untoned droopy tush. The photo above looks pretty good but I also took a side photo and I have ... ugh ... no words. My tummy, my rear ... ONE is flat and ONE is nice and round, and let's just say that we need to reverse that little combination. Are you picking up what I'm putting down?

I also purchased a new highly-rated smoothie maker and will put it to use this morning for the first time ever. I used to make smoothies all the time, adding in superfoods like spinach, kale, blueberries, chia. Now I toast frozen waffles for breakfast and top them with butter and syrup. Can you see that I'm ready for a change?


This is the smoothie maker we decided on and we are excited to treat all of our family members to delicious, nutritional breakfasts and snacks using it. We all could stand to do better. 

So, while I am holding back that side photo that I mentioned above (it's THAT embarrassing), I am putting this blog post out there in hopes for some accountability. I want to be more active, I want to be stronger, I want for my workouts to consist of more than chasing Camille up and down our home stairs. 

I'd love to hear from you ... what is ONE thing you do daily that you are proud to do for your health? Do you work out on your lunch break? Do you pop a multivitamin religiously? Do you do pushups before bed? Pilates, barre, yogacorefusion, what keeps you fit? 

Wednesday

Mountain Weekend in Boone, NC

Coming off of the high of a wonderful weekend in Boone, North Carolina. It was seriously such a great, easy, and relaxing weekend!

The girls and I hit the road right at 2 on Friday. Ian was working north of Charlotte so he drove separately after his day ended. I actually love road trips with the girls. They are (praise hands) SO good in the car these days. They typically just sleep or play quietly. Sometimes I get to listen to my music/podcasts, sometimes we listen to the Frozen soundtrack. Over. And. Over. And. Over. But for the most part, it is just nice and relaxing and I love knowing that my girlies are right there with me on the way to a fun weekend. 


We arrived Friday evening and my mother-in-law made us the BEST lasagna. Around the table we had a big crowd: our family of 4, my MIL, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, their son, their daughter, and their daughter's friend. So ten in total. 

Saturday, some of the big kids went tubing and our little fam went on a ranger ride down to the gas station for candy and then to the horse stables. 


That night we had dinner out at Over Yonder in Valle Crucis which is probably my FAVORITE restaurant in all of the area! I had the hanger steak with mashed potatoes and broccoli, a delicious strawberry cocktail AND a glass of sauv blanc! Happy girl! Back at the house we munched on a birthday cookie cake that the girls and I picked up for my brother-in-law. 



(sidenote: manliest man ever totally unaware of how cute
he looks carrying this princess metal lunchbox.)

Sunday started off with a morning trip to the local gem mine where we left with all sorts of neat rocks: garnets, tigers eye, emeralds, aquamarine, citrine, tons more! Ian stayed at home with napping Charlotte while we did this activity. 





Afterwards, we went to my favorite casual Boone restaurant, The Cardinal, for their delicious burgers. I had a single burger, Carolina style, with fried okra as a side. They brought my burger out with fries too (by accident) so the only polite thing to do was to eat them too. #dietstartstoday 




We stayed through Monday morning due to the long weekend. We had a delicious breakfast at the local gas station (their French toast is my favorite) and Camille and her cousin Aidan had the time of their lives looking at all of the candy and ice creams. 



It really was a wonderful weekend filled with some of my best eats, sips, and PEOPLE ... and I'm already looking forward to our next trip up there!

Monday

ROLL CALL: Mom Hacks


Monday morning roll call!

Someone asked me the other day what one of my favorite "mom hacks" was.
You know, the tips and tricks you use to make life easier. 

Here's what I said:
It's actually a trick I learned from my mom. We have a drawer underneath our double oven that was going unused. My mom recommended that we turn it into Camille's art drawer. It houses her washable crayons, coloring books, construction paper, and sticker pads. She has access to it whenever she wants to be creative. She is in charge of putting her supplies away all by herself! 

And here's one more:
I always try to be one step ahead of what the girls will want or need. 
For example...

+ Ten minutes before Camille is up for her nap, I put a snack and cup of water out for her. Then, whenever she wakes, snack is ready. 

+ While the girls are safely in their high chairs, I run back to our bathroom and draw the bath. I also put their jammies and fresh diapers next to the tub so they can get dressed right out of the bath and I'm not running around the house with naked shivering babes. 

+ Before I go to bed, I fill up a cup of milk for Camille's breakfast.

Tiny tiny things that make life run a smidge smoother!

OKAY, YOUR TURN!
What are your "mom hacks"?

Friday

Five On Friday -- Toddler Hair and More

It's time for another edition of Five on Friday and I do hope you'll join along!

Remember, all you have to do is post about five things on your mind, add our logo (found at the bottom of this post), and join the party using the linky tools below. Easy, and a great way to find new blogs and be found. :) Please visit my lovely co-hostesses Christina and Natasha!

O N E
Toddler hair is the cutest. We've been doing a cute hairstyle that we call "Teddy Bear Ears." Make two high piggytails and just don't pull the last loop all the way through. Top it off with two bows (Tipsy Bunny bows if you're extra special) and you've got Teddy Bear Ears! Camille absolutely loves this hairstyle.

(She's wearing the 3T in this Old Navy top and it's one of my favorites on her!)



T W O
I've been all about some facial masks recently. I mentioned the other day that I did a morning mud mask, and I also had several questions recently about a charcoal purifying mask I used. It's been my favorite so far. It's from Beautycounter and you can contact my girl Alicia HERE if you have questions about it or want to give it a shot. She knows so much about this line and answers all of my questions. This mask dried completely on my face and then drew out tons of oil around my nose and chin ... horrifying but true. It's scary effective.

Image result for beautycounter charcoal mask




T H R E E
This sweet girl has sure been stealing our hearts recently. She's just wrapped up day 10 of the antibiotic Augmentin (after being on Amoxicillin for 10 days) for an ear infection, or "ear insection" as Camille calls it. It's taken a toll on her belly even though I've been giving her a probiotic mixed into her purees daily (this one, as recommended by our pediatrician). She's still been such a happy baby and even mastered clapping this week. She is also sitting up in her crib as of this week and slightly started pulling up on the railing as well. Charry-barry, I love you.


F O U R
Our dining room chair pillows needed a refresh and Elizabeth from Wheaton Whaley Designs always has the perfect solution! She replaced some tired, faded covers I had with thicker, punchier, better quality covers. Her prices are so fair and she's a hustlin' mama that I love to support. She sells inserts too if you need to start from scratch. 

BEFORE:


AFTER:


F I V E
We are heading to the mountains today for some good family time and I cannot WAIT! I hope you all have a great weekend.

OH! And if you are the reader (Elizabeth) who commented the other day on the hobby post that you're a mystery shopper ... please email me! So many of us are curious about how you got in to this and what sort of experiences you've had. Seriously, please email me, we want to pick your brain!

+++

TGIF y'all, and hope you will join in on Five on Friday this week! Cheers to the weekend!

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Thursday

Day In The Life: January 11, 2017

I love Day In The Life posts, and so do you (from the last survey I did).
So ... here's how my day went yesterday.
It was a non-preschool day for Camille which made it a little different.

+ + +

6:09a: Ian's ready for the day and telling me goodbye. He's not always up this early, maybe one or two days a week. I secretly love it because it forces me to get up early and start the day. 

6:25: I am sitting at my computer with a cup of dark roast coffee and a detoxing mud mask on. 


6:48: I place a bid on eBay for a pair of pants I'd love to have in my closet. It's been forever since I've bought or sold on eBay but I do enjoy it. Then I hop over to Blogger and start my blog post for the day. 

7:06: Blog post is up. Truth or dare -- a quick one to write, but it will take time to work on during the day with the comments section. 

7:15: I shower and run a load of laundry.

7:29: Camille tosses the books from her bed to the floor. She does this every single time she wakes up (she loves having books in her bed). 

7:30: Camille's OK to Wake clock turns green and she calls for me. I go up, get Camille, go over to Charlotte's room with her, change both of their diapers. I nurse Charlotte while Camille plays. 

8:00: Breakfast time for us. Waffles and pear slices for me and Camille, organic puffs for Char.


8:33: I make my 2nd cup of coffee. I only let myself drink one cup before nursing Charlotte, so when I'm done, I like having a second cup. Between now and 10:45 we are doing Frozen puzzles, cleaning up from breakfast, tidying up the house, going back to my bathroom to get ready for the day. I bring clothes for each girl down to our bathroom. I do my makeup and dry my hair (Camille is watching YouTube videos and Charlotte is jumping in a doorway bouncer). I get them dressed. We go upstairs to the playroom afterwards and they play while I get some bows organized to take to a local childrens' boutique. 

9:45: I nurse Char again and tidy the house, getting the girls ready to leave. 

10:45: We load up the care to head to The Argyle Alligator to shop and switch out the holiday bows I have there for some Valentines bows. They have this little mom meet-up event going on so it's the perfect day for me to stop by. 


11-12:15: We are at the Argyle Alligator. Camille loves the little play area for kids -- she plays with Elsa, a stuffed Minnie Mouse, and wears Cinderella dress up shoes around the store. I bought Camille a poncho for $11 and a baby gift. And now they have my Valentines bows there!


12:45: We are back home. I feed Char baby food (organic chicken and rice puree), Camille eats chicken noodle soup with cheese toast and frozen peas, and I eat leftover pulled pork and lima beans for lunch. Leftovers from the night before always makes for a great lunch. 



1:30: Nurse Charlotte and get her down for nap around 1:50.

2:00: Reading One Fish Two Fish to Camille and we both lay our heads down on her carpet and rest. I never do this. Usually I have energy for days. Luckily a girlfriend texts me around 2:15, I wake and put her in her crib, turn on her sound machine, and go downstairs. I clean up from lunchtime and make a cup of coffee and have two squares of chocolate. 


2:15-3:30: Transfer over 2000+ photos from my phone to my laptop to clear up space on my iPhone. Fold clothes, Try to organize my closet. Wash dishes and load dishwasher, run it. Ian gets home from work around 3 and then leaves after a while for the gym.

3:30: Camille's awake. I take her to the playroom and give her some caramel rice cakes for snack with a cup of water. I turn on Doc McStuffins for her. She is allowed to watch two shows each day after nap. I make hairbows in the same room.

4:00: Charlotte is awake. I walk into her room and see her pulling up for the very first time. She's not standing up but she is pulling up to a kneeling position. Yikes. We had to install these breathable crib bumpers in her bed because she was getting her chunky thighs stuck in the rungs. 


4:05: Charlotte has more milk and then we all play a little bit in the playroom.

5:00-5:45: We play outside. Ian gets home around 5:15 and joins us on our wagon ride. This is the first time Char has ever sat up in a wagon. She is loving it. Camille also bikes a little after the wagon ride and is getting really good at pedaling. 



5:45: Dinner for the girls. Camille has macaroni, lima beans, green beans and tomatoes. She has a jello fruit cup for dessert, it's her favorite. Charlotte has pureed prunes with her Vitamin D drop. Mama has a glass of wine. While they are in their high chairs I run back to our bathroom and start the bath water. 




6:30: The girls are in the bath together. I already have their jammies and fresh diapers on the bathroom floor for ease. I get them dressed right out of the tub. Ian takes Camille up and I take Charlotte up and nurse her one last time before bed. I read her a story and sing Twinkle Twinkle to her. Ian is in Millie's room getting her teeth brushed and reading to her. After Char is down, I pop over to Mill's room and let her tackle-hug me once and then we sing songs and I put her to bed. It is a little after 7pm.

7:15-8: I finish cooking dinner, tidy up the kitchen, and catch up on Instastories. I cut a whole pineapple up and start prepping Camille's preschool lunch for the following day. 

8:00: We eat dinner together at the kitchen bar and talk about our days and the upcoming weekend. We have chicken sausage, roasted parmesan green beans and tomatoes, and freshly cut pineapple. 


8:25: Ian clears the dishwasher and I am sitting at my computer with a glass of red and cream cheese icing. And I start this blog post...


9:35: Print shipping labels for Tipsy Bunny bows I sold. Grab shipping envelopes. Message buyers on Instagram and send invoices. Package up two orders to go out in the morning. 

9:53: Back to get ready for bed!

10:20: Lights out. 

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