Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bike Rides

E is loving his new tricycle (thanks Gma Woods!) and mom and dad are loving the long handle to push him without killing our backs! He is getting good at ringing the bell and we usually take a few laps around the house before bedtime as it really chills him out :)

Bye Bye Uncle Trent

Ethan's big August accomplishment was learning to say "y"s. He now says a clear daddy, bubye (bye bye) and hi! We say bubye to everything now and his teachers say he is the class greeter and tells every parents who comes to pick up their baby "byeeeeee" and waves. Pretty darn cute.

Let's pretend I'm not a month behind on blogging... so let's flash back to the first week in August. My little brother Trent moved to Chicago. Super excited for him as he landed a great job with ECHO (transportation logistics company) but Ethan sure is sad to have his buddy go bubye. Doolittles is our favorite local restaurant so we had a send-off dinner for him. They are famous for the wood fire rotisserie chicken -Ethan was fascinated watching them go round and round. We're looking forward to visits to Chicago to see Uncle Trent!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New House!!!

I'm several weeks behind on blogging but wanted to share some exciting breaking news from the Woods Fam + 1...

We bought a house today!!! Absolutely thrilled to have found a place that we can see ourselves happily raising our family in. We found our Realtor in July (Amy Jurek - she's fabulous!) and have been house hunting for about a month and probably saw about 20 houses. This beauty in Maple Grove came on the market 11 days ago and we knew it had potential from the pics online alone. Went through twice last Friday and again on Sunday and put in an offer that night. The bank countered this morning and we came back with a take it or leave it final offer which miraculously was accepted late afternoon! We're still in disbelief as we had been mentally preparing to walk away since we had maxed out but are absolutely thrilled it went through! Signing paperwork in the morning and the inspection will be scheduled in the next 5 days. After what we went through selling the condo it feels amazing to be on the buyer's side of real estate this time! We landed at a purchase price that is 32% less that what the house sold for in 2007 so ecstatic to get such an amazing value and hope it'll be a great investment. We tentatively close on Thursday, October 6th. Here is the run down and listing pics tour:

-Located in Maple Grove, MN
-Foreclosure/Bank Owned
-Built in 2005
-2,593 finished square feet
-4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 3 garage, .037 Acres
-School District: Osseo (Rush Creek Elementary, MG Jr. High, MG Highschool)

The house had me at the front exterior - love the triangle architecture/roof lines, the colors, the pillars, and the big front porch!

Great Room / Family Room - will be spending a ton of time in here!

Kitchen from the edge of the great room and dinning nook. Most of the appliances were stripped by the former owner - they only left the dishwasher and microwave. The bank is installing a new electric range (oven/stove) but we'll need to buy the fridge, washer, and dryer. We're considering running a gas line so we can could have a gas stove.

Kitchen from the patio door. The island is a pretty granite and I like the stone back splash but the laminate side counters are going to drive me nuts until we can replace them! Straight ahead is the garage entrance, mudroom, laundry room, and 1/2 bath. Love that they are tucked away.

Eat In Kitchen / Dinner Nook & Sliding Door entrance to backyard. No deck or patio - fun project to tackle next summer!

Main floor office with french doors directly off the front entry. Thinking of using this for toy storage and play for a few years while kids are little until we can finish the basement as there is an office nook upstairs as well.

Mudroom with lockers - it was love at first sight ;) Will be so great for the kiddos. There is a cute little bench by the garage door and then the laundry rooms is off to the left facing the street with a nice big window above the (missing) machines. The powder room is off the mudroom as well and has a sliding pocket door - it's small but in a perfect location. The security system is already installed and just needs service turned out - great perk as I'm a huge fraidy cat.

Upstairs we go! There is a cute center landing area at the top of the stairs and all of the rooms spoke out from it so there isn't a long hallway. There is a great office nook in the middle with awesome built ins. Thinking a lot of school work will be out here when the kids are older and we move our office to the main floor.

Master Bedroom - bright and open. A king bed is high on Brian's wish list but alas, appliances come first ;)

Master Bath - not huge but well laid out and has lots of storage. The high counter tops will be nice for getting ready and finally having double sinks will do wonders for our marriage :)

Bedroom #1 - front of the house overlooking the street.

Bedroom #2 - also at the front of the house. Haven't decided which one will be Ethan's yet. If you go back up to the exterior picture, there are 2 small square windows in the middle of the house. These are actually in the closets of the 2 front bedrooms - pretty cool!

Bedroom #3 / Loft/Bonus Room / Playroom / Lounge - so many possibilities! There is a closet so it technically is a bedroom. Most likely will be a playroom for several years but could also put a sofa and TV in it down the line and would be a pretty sweet hangout spot for when the kids are older.

Kids Bathroom - it's narrow but long and has a pocket door to separate the tub and toilet from the vanity which should save a few fights down the line :)

Insulated 3 Car Garage - had never seen one like this before! From the front it has a 2-car door but the drive continues along the side of the house where there is a single garage entrance where a 3rd car (Brian says boat) can pull in which makes a T in front of the other 2. Looking forward to having this bonus space for a lawn mower, snow blower etc, all of which we have to buy - eek! Craig's List here we come...

Basement - unfinished with rough plumbing for a future bath. Brian is hoping to turn it into a glorious rec room/mancave with a cool bar area, but that project is far down the line. Will be great for storage for now - after living in a 900 square foot condo for 6 years we won't know what to do with all of this extra space!

Backyard! Flat and square and lots of room for Ethan and Bella to play! We have visions of an amazing patio, but for now just need to get make-shift steps down from the sliding door so we can take Bella out. Since the house has been vacant all summer the grass hasn't been watered so it needs a little TLC but overall is in great shape. The sprinkler system is a nice perk. Neither of us have a green thumb but luckily the existing landscaping seems basic enough. Brian has plans to hit the fertilizing hard this fall so that next summer we won't have all of these brown spots - I'm sure the neighbors will be grateful!

We met our neighbors to the right during one of the showings. She was so friendly and put in a great plug for the area and offered to answer questions. She has 5 year old twin girls and a 7 year old daughter. Asked if there were other kids on the street and she said there is a 16 month old across the street, a baby due in October kitty corner from us, and we saw 2 more little girls riding bikes in the street as we left - love it! They have a nice fenced in yard and a pretty sweet swing set so E will need to make friends with their girls fast ;) The neighbors to the right have a gorgeous backyard with a cool fire pit - didn't see kid stuff in their yard but hopefully they are fun. Everyone on the street seems to take excellent care of their yards. There are 10-15 houses on the street that were built in 2005 which was the last addition to a big subdivision built in the early 90s which butts up to our backyard. Hopefully there are some fun neighbors over there as well!

Maple Grove is a northwest suburb of the twin cities. It's a whole new world for me as I group up on the south side and we lived downtown for so long. Pretty sure I'll get lost daily for a while. It's super close to Brian's office so his commute will be a breeze. We're close to the Arbor Lakes which was a huge draw for me - shopping and restaurants galore! My commute downtown will be a pain but I am going to bravely attempt to get over my dislike of mass transit and become a bus rider. Going to need to find some quality babysitters stat as the downside is that we're about 40 minutes from my parents and it will add another hour to the drive to Des Moines to see Brian's family:(

I don't know my MG geography yet but we're close to the Rush Creek golf course and right by the public access for Weaver Lake. The elementary school is just a couple blocks away and there are 3 parks close by. Seems like a great place to raise a family!

Since it's a foreclosure it comes "as is" which is a little unsettling but a thorough professional inspection should help ease our minds. Project list so far:

-Find a new daycare asap!
-Purchase Fridge, Washer, & Dryer, Kitchen Table, and Bar Stools for the Island (eek!)
-"Patio" steps
-Deep Clean (It's been vacant all summer - have floors professionally done)
-Fix drawers off track, broken pocket door handles, etc
-Run gas line for stove?
-Paint Walls? (would be so nice to have done before we move in as the walls are in bad shape but we could live with it for a while if needed)

Next 1-2 Years
-Install Deck or Patio
-Paint all trim (and cabinets?) white
-Furnish & Decorate

Long Term
-Finish Basement
-Replace laminate counters with granite
-Replace floors with dark hardwood
-Concrete or paver driveway

Can't wait to have visitors! Warning that it will be pretty bare for a while! We have little furniture left from the condo and our home improvement budget will be very tiny so it won't be pulled together for quite some time but looking forward to tackling projects room by room and slowly making it our own.

Apologies for the ramblings - can you tell I'm over the moon excited and can't sleep? Will keep you posted - thanks for all of your love and support!!!

Monday, August 22, 2011


...and she found a chair that was just right...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

First Birthday Cake

Since E's smashcake photo shoot didn't got so well we went with the highchair containment strategy for 2nd cake attempt at the party so he couldn't crawl away. We took advantage of the beautiful weather and brought the highchair outside to minimize the mess. He seemed to like the taste and leisurely swiped at it and once we cut an actual slice he really dug in. Even grabbed the fork from me and tried to feed himself. We took him straight to the kiddie pool on the deck to clean up and lounge while the chipping and putting competition took place. Congrats Harper and Troy on the big win - hope the champagne was yummy! Such a great day - thanks again to our friends and family for making it so special!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Party Peeps!

Skyping with Grandma Woods!

We are truly blessed with the best family and friends. Brian's family drove up from Des Moines and Rochester, my sister & Sam left their cabin weekend early and my Aunts drove all the way from Chicago - best surprise ever!!! Summer weekends are so busy - really appreciate all of our friends giving up a beautiful Sunday afternoon to help us celebrate. We joked a lot about how much our parties have changes in the last 6 years - frat parties turned into cocktail parties and now 1st birthday parties :) Ethan was so glad he got to skype with his Grandma Woods during the party! Luckily all my hosting stress melted away as soon as our guests arrived (a glass of champagne & several kitchen elves also helped!) and I so enjoyed chatting the afternoon away surrounded by my favorite peeps! This also meant I put down my camera and didn't get many pics with guests - bummer!

Super Fun Birthday Gifts!

E is one lucky boy - he got so many cool gifts! All sorts of fun books, clothes, games, toys and college savings $. My sister created an adventure fund and every birthday she'll make a deposit and on his 18th birthday take him on a super cool trip - so clever. We've put together a few toys together and are keeping several in boxes until we buy a house this fall to keep us entertained during MN's long winter! Thanks so much everyone :)