Thursday, June 22, 2017

Exterior Renovation Part I {This Old House Our New Home}

I still remember the first time we drove by our house.  Mike and I had finished a race in Nashville that morning and we were headed back home to Franklin when we made a detour through a sweet little neighborhood in Brentwood.  As we drove around the quite streets, I looked out my window at the tall trees and the big yards and I started dreaming of our next home!  

We knew the family that owned the house we now call home and I remember texting that same day to see if they might allow us to rent their home while we tried to find a house to buy in the same neighborhood.  Who would have ever dreamed that a short ten months later they would contact us again to sell us their house off market.  It has been such a blessing to make this sweet house our home and as I said in my very first renovation post...this house was built with love many years ago.  I'm just changing the colors. 
We started our renovation journey by updating the kitchen and refinishing the hardwood floors.  We opened a wall between the kitchen and dining room and then painted ALL the dark wood paneling.   We literally painted every inch of the upstairs including doors, trim, and window panes.  It has been a lot of work and I still have several rooms that need baseboards and ceilings painted, but I have seen this little house brighten up and I'm so proud of her! 

The exterior was something that I knew I wanted to update, but we had to save our money and come up with a design plan.  We got pregnant with our sweet Georgia Mae shortly after moving in so most of our renovation plans came to a halt as I was sick for most of 2016.  At the beginning of the year, we started getting a plan together and shopping for a front door.  The original doors on the house were hollow and you could see daylight between them.  The draft that came through kept the front of the house pretty cold in the winter too so the front door was our first priority.    
We chose a farmhouse style door from Home Depot and I think it's beautiful!  Home Depot also installed it for us and they did a great job!  They had to remove the existing doors to the rough opening and install a whole new door package.  I definitely recommend this if you have an old house.  We have replaced several interior doors and it is SO tricky to get a good fit with old houses that have settled on their foundation.  
In the weeks that followed, I sampled EIGHT different gray paints on the back side of the house, and decided gray was definitely not the right color.  Our roof is a very light gray and reflects light to the point that it almost looks white.  After making a friend at Sherwin Williams and asking everyone I could think of, I decided to go with a farmhouse white paint color.  My roof is similar in color to a tin roof and that helped me see the color pallet better.  Because the roof was such a light shade of gray and I wanted to paint the brick white, I decided to add contrast by painting all the accents gray.  I will list my paint colors below! 

Here are a few things I learned by painting our brick.  Dang, it's hard work.  I talked with several friends that painted their brick themselves and some used a sprayer while others were adamant that you should roll it.  I talked with experts at Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams who both advised to roll as well and so that's where we initially landed.  We had a budget to pay for part of the house to be painted by a professional, but we decided to save money and paint two sides ourselves.  I was also informed consistently that you should take the extra time to seal the brick before you paint.  This added a lot of extra work and was an additional cost to consider. But in the end,  we took the advice of all professionals we consulted and used a sealer with two top coats of pain.  Of course, it's all fun and games that first day til you realize you've been painting for six hours and you still need another coat... so we went and rented the sprayer.  
My friend at Sherwin Williams taught me to use both the sprayer and the roller.  He walked me through having Mike spray while I followed behind with the roller to make sure it had an even finish.  That my friends, was solid advice!  Once we got in the groove with the sprayer and the roller, we covered ground quickly.  You can rent an industrial sprayer from Home Depot for around $150/day. 

We taped and covered so many things to prevent overspray, but I later learned from the painter that helped us that you can also use a paint shield when you are spraying.  I watched him use the shield while he sprayed our gutters, downspouts, and garage doors.  Did I mention how awesome our garage doors turned out?!  No more stark white!

Once we finally finished painting all the brick, Mike and I painted the shutters across the front of the house as well as the columns.  Next, my dad installed our porch lantern lights and a new doorbell.  Y'all, my dad is amazing and somehow knows how to do almost anything.  He also LOVES when I come up with projects and renovation ideas. 

Here's one more shot of the before and then our new front porch. I knew she could be this pretty and I'm so proud of how it turned out.  I think the front door really pops out with the white paint and I'm so happy I decided to go with a white color! 

 Next year, we plan to rip out the rest of the old shrubs and tackle the landscaping.  I can already see the hydrangeas and hostas in front of our sweet little ranch house!  But for now, I am going to take a break from painting and enjoy the view.  We love our sweet home and the beautiful neighborhood God has allowed us to be in.  Renovating an old house takes a lot of time and we are trying to stay within our budget and do as much ourselves as we can.  These are my biggest lessons in year two of our renovation. 

* You are not on Fixer Upper and there is no big reveal so take your time and stay within your budget
* Don't be afraid to learn what you can and do as much as you can yourselves to save money
* Interview multiple contractors before you hire someone and do you homework to see what things cost.  For example, our first few bids for paint were three times what we actually paid
* Hire trusted individuals from smaller towns.  You may pay more for someone who subcontracts the work. 
* Don't wait to invite friends over til you are done.  Allow them to be a part of the journey
* Don't forget that your house is your home. It's a gift that the Lord has given you and your family.  Use it to serve Him. 

{Home Sweet Home}

All the Details: 

Exterior Brick-SW Shoji White
Garage doors, gutters, columns, and trim- SW Dorian Gray
Shutters- SW Dovetail gray 
Lantern Lights- Carmen One Outdoor light from Wayfair
Front Door- Steves & Sons Savannah 6 Lite Stained Mahogany

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Georgia Mae {7 Months Old}

Wow!  Life has been busy here at the Harder house of pink.  We have been renovating our house and working on exterior painting the last several weeks.  Little Georgia Mae has also had a busy few weeks developmentally, and so much has changed for her in the last month.   

My little peanut said "mama" for the first time.  She is the first of my girls to say my name first, so obviously it melted my heart!  It's the sweetest sound to finally hear your babies develop their own little voice and say your name.  I could just bottle up the sweetness.  

Georgia also started sitting unsupported, and she is so proud of herself!  She will push herself up from her belly and once she gets balanced, she grins and gives me the sweetest look of accomplishment!  I could eat her up!
This is what Georgia Mae is doing at 7 Months:

* Sitting unsupported
* Rocking in quadruped
* Pulling herself forward on her belly
* Eating lots of new foods.  Her favorites are green beans, squash, banana, and avocado.  

* She is learning how to hold and use her first sippy cup! 
* Mama is her only word so far...must mean I'm awesome :)
* She loves to motorboat and make kissing sounds 
* She's a snuggle bug.  I love my mornings with her.  She wakes up a few minutes earlier than my big girls so I soak up the snuggles on the couch with my first cup of coffee.  Then I have the multiple cups of coffee as the madness of the morning ensues!  

I have been a little sad thinking of how big she is getting and how quickly things are changing.  Four to eight months is my absolute favorite baby stage because they sit in your lap and let you kiss on them and hold them tight.  In just a few short weeks, she will figure out that crawling thing and leave me to explore.  She already tries to get her little body to move toward her sisters.  She can't wait to join them in all the fun!  

It has been the sweetest seven months for our family and I can't imagine our lives without these three little girls.  When I am wearing Georgia or she is covered in the stroller, strangers will stop and ask if our third is a boy.  I wish I could scream from the highest mountain that I wanted three little girls and am SO happy that Georgia is the little baby God had for our family.  She is the perfect addition and we adore her!

{Seven Months Old ~Georgia Mae}

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Six Months old and full of JOY {Georgia Mae}

If I had to describe Georgia in one word, it would be JOLLY.  That little baby is so cheerful and smiley that you can't help but smile when you look at her sweet face.  She absolutely loves for you to talk to her or sing to her, and her eyes are still a deep BLUE!
She is definitely my easiest baby and I have really been able to enjoy her.  I've heard there is something special about the third baby, and I have to say that is so true!  I'm sure I am much more relaxed this time around as a mom, but I think it may be easier because my older girls are more independent and can play together.  When Violet was born, Abigail still needed me so much that it all seems a bit blurry, but with my big girls now entertaining themselves, I can simply watch Georgia explore her little world and I can enjoy each stage with her at a slower pace! Two of her favorite things right now are looking at her books and chewing on her books...

She also loves to play in her exersaucer.  She definitely doesn't have the core strength to sit independently yet, so I limit her to around 10 minutes of playtime in it.  It's still important for her to be in prone and work on her mobility and strength so the PT in me continues to put her on the floor!  It's the best way for her to get stronger!

Here is what little Georgia Mae is doing at 6 months old: 

* Sleeping 11-12 hours at night.
* Almost sitting on her own but currently still needs support.

* She is chewing on EVERYTHING but no teeth yet!  Abigail and Violet both started cutting teeth at 5 months so I'm looking for them!
* She is interacting with me so much and loves for me to blow on her belly or make motorboat sounds to her.
* She can make clicking sounds with her mouth and laughs at herself when she does!
* She has noticed stuffed animals and studies them intently!
* She has tried pears, sweet potatoes, and avocados.  She only likes her oatmeal and sweet potatoes so far. 
* She is rocking on her belly and trying to pull her knees under her into quadruped.  NO NO NO!
* She adores her sisters and loves for them to play with her.
* She really engages with her touch and feel books and lift the flap books and gets so excited when you read to her
* She smiles as soon as she hears her Daddy's voice and starts searching the room for him!

Georgia is such a social baby, so I purchased a seat that can attach onto the island.  I noticed that she would cry if we were all in the kitchen together and she was left in her pack-n-play.  Once we brought her over to sit with us, she looked around and threw a little party!  She has been so happy sitting with her family!  We actually let her try real food a little earlier than I did with my big girls because she started reaching for our spoons and opening her mouth for food.  She's getting so big so fast!  These last two pictures are a little blurry, but they definitely capture her joyful personality.  I could not love her more!

We love you happy girl!  
{Georgia Mae 6 Months Old}

Monday, February 27, 2017

Four Months {My blue eyed Georgia Mae}

Four months might be my favorite age!  My sweet little baby is showing so much personality and is starting to explore her world, but she is still content to snuggle in my lap.  My favorite thing about Georgia at this age is that she is so social - she loves to smile at people and her whole body does a little wiggle!  I also love that when I look down over her crib each morning and she recognizes me, her whole body scrunches up with joy and she smiles SO big!  Love her!

This is what Georgia is doing at 4 months:

*Everything goes in her mouth!  She has learned to reach and grasp - and now to the mouth it goes!

*She found her voice and loves to squeal!
*The mirror!  This baby loves to smile at herself in the mirror. It's so fun to watch her glance away and then back at the mirror.  Each time, she is surprised to see herself and she grins so big!
*She is starting to stick her hand in my mouth -LOL.  Little explorer.
*She is rolling both directions

*She now insists that she sleep on her belly
*She loves for you to kiss her belly and responds with giggles and squeals 
*She is the best little sleeper, but we have entered the 4 month developmental leap/growth spurt/sleep regression.  I think we are almost through it!  She started sleeping through the night (9-10 hours) 6 weeks ago, but I have been watching the calendar and preparing myself...The good news is as soon as I get her back on schedule, she'll cut a tooth!  
*She is SO social.  She is my first baby to really turn toward people.  
*She loves her sisters so much!  When she hears Abigail's voice, she smiles from ear to ear and starts looking for her.  My big girls sing for her and tell her stories.  And they are the best helpers! 
*She weighs 12 pounds and is 24 inches long.  She is barely fitting in her 3-6 month sleepers!
* She loves. Her. Feet.  Like, can't get enough of those toes!!!
Since I could barely keep Georgia on her back, I thought I should document her biggest developmental milestone this month.  She is now rolling onto her belly and reaching for toys.  The Physical Therapist in me is so proud! 

Four to eight months is definitely my favorite baby stage, so I'm going to enjoy each little snuggle and baby laugh that I can before she is on the move.  She is so much fun and our lives feel more complete with our little blue eyed baby Georgia! We love you little bit!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Georgia Mae {Three Months}

I decided that I wanted to be a physical therapist when I was seventeen years old.  I graduated with my Masters degree in 2004 and then completed the transitional doctorate program in 2005.  I specialized in Orthopaedics in 2007.  I really love my job.  But I will tell you, being at home with baby Georgia for three months about did me in! I am so thankful for a job that allows me to work part-time and once I get myself back in a routine I'm always grateful for a few days a week to love on other people and continue developing my skills.  I am a learner and a teacher, and my profession allows me to do both.  So, I will put real clothes on and use bigger words a few days each week, but when I am home...pajamas and baby snuggles all day!

They say that baby number three is usually easy and adaptable and that seems to be very true for Georgia.  She is definitely my most social baby.  I tried to wear her in my ergo during our church service yesterday and she looked like a bobble head toy trying to figure out where her Daddy's voice was coming from! 

Here is what sweet Georgia is doing at 3 months : 
* She loves for you to sing or talk to her.  Her whole body wiggles she gets so excited!
* She weighs 12 pounds 
* She is SO long!!!  She is already wearing 3-6 month sleepers
* She is rolling from her tummy to her back and from her back to her side
* She brings her hands to midline and has started sucking her thumb
* She sleeps a total of 13-15 hours a day.  Her long night stretch is 7-9 hours now

Her little features keep changing and I can't figure out exactly who she looks like!  Abigail's dark baby hair fell out and grew back in blonde so I'm still waiting to see about miss Georgia!  
I was asked this morning how life with three is and I will tell you that it is CRAZY.  I struggle to get anywhere on time and I get overstimulated very easily when my big girls are whining at me and Georgia is crying because she needs me.  But there is so much joy in the chaos.  As I type this post, Violet and Georgia are napping.  I've convinced Abigail that she has to have "quiet time" in her room so Mommy can recharge.  She is currently singing " We wish you a Merry Christmas"... 

This season of life is so sweet.  Hard, but very sweet.  One of the main reasons for my family blog is so I can freeze moments and not let them sneak by.  I don't want to forget a single detail. 

{Georgia Mae 3 Months of Sweetness}

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Abigail's Pirate Princess Pizza Party {Five Years Old}

January may be the craziest month to try to plan for a birthday party!  Last January, I had to reschedule Abigail's birthday party due to the snow.  This year, it was 68 degrees and sunny.  We invited a LOT of kids this year and since the weather was beautiful, the party made its way outside and it was perfect!

 My girls LOVE maps so I made each of Abigail's friends a treasure map that led them to either pixie dust or a sword.  I hope they had as much fun as I did!  To make pixie dust, I mixed 1 cup of salt with 8 drops of food coloring.  I used green food coloring but it actually turned out turquoise, which matched my decorations so that was a win!

I am so thankful for our big back yard.  It was definitely something I immediately fell in love with when we moved in to our new house.  We had space for kids to shoot (foam) bow and arrows, play soccer, pile in the sand box, and run out all their wiggles!  Several of Abigail's class mates came to celebrate her birthday.  And of course, they were in costume!

As I tucked my sweet girl in bed last night and whispered that it was her last night to be a four year old, I told her all about the night she was born.  I'll never forget smiling and looking at Mike as our family left and we settled in with our new baby in our hospital room.  " We have a baby", I said.  Our life has never been the same and I am so thankful I get to be her mommy.  She dressed her self for church today and called me mom though...dangit.  

I wish I could keep her little forever but I also love watching her grow and explore.  She is so kind.  I know I'm her mom, but I love how tender her heart is.  She is sensitive and sweet.  She loves adventure and she is brave.  She trusts me with everything.  

Abigail at Five years old: 
* She loves ballerinas and costumes.  She is in a costume by 7:00 A.M. 
* She is pre-reading and doing simple math
* She is the best big sister 
* She is SO tall!
* She is going to be my athlete.  She's dainty and delicate, but I see natural agility in the way she moves.  Maybe she'll be a sneaky surprise like her momma! (I played college basketball)
* She loves puzzles and board games

I am so thankful for beautiful weather in the middle of January.  It made for a perfect party day to celebrate my sweet baby girl.  I was asked by several moms if I made her cake.  Um...NO.  But, the Puffy Muffin in Cool Springs did and it was A-Mazing!  There were only strawberry crumbs left.  

Happy Birthday Abigail Elizabeth!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Harder Family Christmas {2016}

Someone recently asked me why I love Christmas so much. Is it the decorating with bright colors and pretty dishes?  Is it the christmas trees and gingerbread cookies?  Maybe it's the advent stories and Christmas cards on the fridge?  Or my favorite sermons of a King coming down to save the world? For sure, it could be singing Silent Night with my church family and holding my children as I watch Christmas unfold in their eyes.  I love it y'all.  All. Of. It.  There are two things you can be sure of.  I will teach my babies that Jesus is Lord and that He loves them dearly.  And I will show them how to turn up the Christmas music, dance in their Christmas socks while they bake, and decorate every inch of their home with Christmas cheer!!  

Our family room doesn't have a great spot for a tree so I put an all white, flocked beauty in our dining room.  It was a perfect spot because I could enjoy it while I wrapped presents and baked cookies with the girls!  

Our living room in the front of the house has a little more space for actual presents and Christmas morning fun, so we put our sweet kid friendly tree with all their precious, handmade ornaments in that room!  
I have several pieces of furniture that belonged to my great grandmother and they are so special to me. My first memories of gathering for Christmas meals are in her dining room.  I am so thankful that I have these antique pieces and that I will be able to share their story with my girls.  

I started this little family blog six years ago and though it's a creative outlet for me and a fun way to document and share pictures with our friends and family, I love that I can put a picture with a memory and show our children one day.  I love looking back over the years and seeing the traditions we have slowly made as a family.  One of my favorite has become visiting the Christmas Tree Farm in Murfreesboro.  Country Cove is adorable!  After we snap a few pictures of the girls, we stop in at the little store where they serve hot chocolate and apple cider.  Out back, you can hear kids warming their hands by a fire pit before taking a trip around the farm on a hayride.  This year, it was freezing but Abigail and Violet were happy as could be with their sweet little flushed cheeks and pink noses!

~My sweet Abigail~

 ~And of course, little miss personality~
I have been on maternity leave since October, so I've been able to spend so much time this Christmas season with my sweet babies.  I am so thankful that I got to spend a day with each of them at school for their Christmas parties.  Abigail and I decorated a gingerbread house together.  She's almost five, but for that short hour, she crawled in my lap and held on to me so tightly.  I know she's getting big and kindergarten is right around the corner, so I really cherish my last year with her at home.

Violet couldn't wait for me to come to her party at school, especially after she saw me visiting Abigail's class.  I promised her I would be there for her party too, and her reaction made my day!  Her little hands flew in the air and she looked around at her friends saying " my mommy, my mommy"! Love her big!  

And of course, nothing has been sweeter this Christmas, than welcoming sweet Georgia Mae into our family.  I could go on and on about how in love with that baby I am, but I'll just leave this picture instead.  I mean, how adorable is this sweet hat?!

Mike and I have special ornaments on our tree for each of our girls.  On their first Christmas, we write a note and leave it inside.  This year, we left Georgia a special note in her ornament. One day, we hope our girls will read them and know how dearly loved and prayed over they are. 
After lots of wonderful food and quality time with family this week, we placed the presents for our girls under the tree and went to bed with full hearts.  Seeing their joy on Christmas morning is magical!  

Their big gift this year was this adorable pillow fort tee pee that I found on Amazon.  It fits perfectly in the corner of their room and helps balance out the space.  I'm almost finished with their room and I think it's SO cute.  I'm still looking for curtains and I'd love to make a book shelf for between their windows.  Also, their room is NEVER this clean.  I snapped a quick picture right before the tornado of Christmas day play began! 
This week we will take down ALL our trees :)  I'll put all the Christmas decor back in the boxes until next year, but I will hold on to the beautiful memories we made as a family this Christmas.  2016 was a pretty rough year for me.  Pregnancy and I are not friends.  After spending the majority of the year nauseous, hypoglycemic, and hypotensive - I really appreciated November and December!  I finally felt like myself and was actually present for my family.  I could not have made it through this year without my dear husband.  I try to brag on him every chance I get.  With me feeling sick and struggling with my blood pressure being so low, I feel like I missed so much.  He picked up the slack as he always does and took care of our family.  Somehow, he was able to take care of all of us while leading our church and working on his PhD.  He's a keeper and I love him so much!  He even let me put live garland across our mantle even though it makes him sneeze.  He tolerates me and all my Christmas decorating so well!  There's no one else I would rather snuggle up to at night by a cozy fire with twinkling lights than my dear husband. He makes my Christmas extra special! (Not pictured is Pastor Mike in his super snazzy elf slippers...)

{Harder Family Christmas 2016}